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'Swine flu' vaccine ordered by state, small amount available at first

Federal health officials say the first batch of H1N1 "swine flu" vaccine includes about 71,000 doses for Washington. This initial vaccine is a nasal spray. Flu shots are expected in a couple of weeks. Since the first supply is limited and the spray can't be used by everyone, it's mostly targeted at health care workers, healthy children, and families and caregivers of babies.

The first shipments of this new vaccine are expected to arrive in our state around Oct. 7. As more arrives, high-risk groups will be the first priority. Soon, enough vaccine should be available to meet demand throughout the state. Local health agencies decide which providers get vaccine.

"Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick," state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said. "While the first shipments will be small, in the coming weeks we expect to have enough of this vaccine in our communities for everyone who wants it. Watch for information in your community about where you and your family can go to be vaccinated against swine flu."

More vaccine will be available in the coming weeks. At that time, people can check with their health care providers to see if they have vaccine. Retail pharmacies, grocery stores and local health agencies may also have that information, and can be found at www.doh.wa.gov/LHJMap/LHJMap.htm.

H1N1 vaccination is voluntary. Adults who want the vaccine will need one dose, while children will need two. The seasonal flu and the H1N1 vaccines may be given on the same day. The Department of Health H1N1 "swine flu" Web site, provides additional information on the vaccine, as well as tips on how schools, businesses and people at home can avoid getting sick. The Department of Health Seasonal Flu News Web site, at http://www.doh.wa.gov/FluNews/, has additional information on seasonal flu vaccine.

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