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First 100 doses of swine flu vaccine to arrive here soon




The Letcher County Health Department will distribute 100 doses of a nasal spray vaccine to protect against the H1N1 flu on a first-come, first-serve basis as soon as the shipment arrives sometime next week.

Health Department Director Lana Polly-Mullins said the county’s first vaccine allotment will be in the form of a nasal spray which contains a weakened, live flu virus. The nasal spray should not be administered to pregnant women, people with underlying health problems, or those with a weakened immune system.

Mullins said the first 100 doses will be available to persons who live with or provide care to infants less than six months old; health care and medical emergency personnel who have direct contact with patients or infectious material; children age six months to four years; and children ages five to 18 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza related complications.

The first shipment to protect against the H1H1 virus will only be administered at the health department because of the limited number of doses. Other health facilities in the county will be able to obtain vaccines from the second shipment to administer to patients at their sites.

“The next shipment will be for everyone,” said Mullins.

Mullins is anticipating the county will receive about 1,500 doses in the second allotment, but doesn’t know when those will be delivered to the health department. The second shipment will consist of an injectable H1N1 vaccine and will be available to everyone who wants the vaccine.

Mullins said if there is a high demand for the shot the health department will extend its hours or may even open on a Saturday.

Mullins said that during November the H1N1 vaccine will be offered at all schools in the county.

Outbreaks of H1N1, also known as swine flu, resulted in classes being canceled Oct. 1 and 2 at Cowan, Letcher and West Whitesburg elementary schools and at Whitesburg Middle School because of low attendance.

The Letcher County School System is closed this entire week for fall break.

Classes in the Jenkins Independent School District were canceled on Oct. 6 because a large number of students were absent on Oct. 5 with flu-like symptoms, said Supt. Debbie Watts. The remainder of the school week was already scheduled as fall break.

“We’re hoping everyone will come back on Monday healthy,” said Watts.

Side effects associated with the vaccine are the same as the seasonal flu shot: soreness at the injection site, fever and nausea.

Mullins said the health department has already administered 500 seasonal flu shots and is temporarily out.

“We’re out and can’t get it,” said Mullins. “We’re trying.”

Rite Aid Pharmacy in Whitesburg is also out of the seasonal flu vaccine and workers hope to get more in soon.

Sybil Shell, director of nursing at Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC), said the Whitesburg Medical Clinic has administered quite a few shots since Oct. 1, but still has an adequate supply of the seasonal flu shot left. She said MCHC received a shipment of 1,400 doses.

“I don’t know what the current supply is because we have given so many,” said Shell. “I don’t know how long it will last.”

Shell said patients can walk in to the MCHC clinic and ask for a seasonal flu shot at the front desk. The patient’s chart will be pulled and then the patient will be directed where to go. The patient will have his/her temperature taken, will be given a flu shot and then will be asked to wait 15 minutes to make sure they don’t have a reaction to the shot.

Shell said she can’t guarantee that there won’t be a wait, but said it shouldn’t take too long to get a flu shot.

“We’re giving them just as fast as we can give them,” said Shell. The cost for a seasonal flu shot at MCHC is $15.

Seasonal flu shots are also available at the Appalachian Regional Hospital (ARH) clinics in Whitesburg and Jenkins with a physician’s order.


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