Swine flu vaccines will be available to everyone beginning Monday.
After weeks of carefully doling out vaccine to people at most risk of serious illness, the Spokane Regional Health District announced Thursday that ample supplies of the vaccines have arrived in Spokane County.
It’s the same across North Idaho, the Panhandle Health District announced.
The new shipments arrive at a time when the number of people needing hospitalization because of the flu has been falling.
More than 107,000 doses of the vaccine have been shipped to the county, said health officer Dr. Joel McCullough. People wanting the vaccine are encouraged to call their health care providers or local pharmacies. There may be a fee.
Although patient numbers have dropped, McCullough warned H1N1 influenza virus infections could surge again.
The virus is especially tough on children and people with underlying health conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that swine flu has killed 250 children across the nation this year, more than triple the number of annual child deaths attributable to the flu.
One infant from the Tri-Cities area died this fall at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center from swine flu.
There have been 67 people younger than 19 years old hospitalized with H1N1 in Spokane County. Of those cases, 51 were children ages 10 and younger, McCullough noted.
“We remain worried about the little ones, kids, who haven’t been vaccinated,” he said.
“This is a serious illness.”
No additional public vaccination clinics are planned at this time. People who are uninsured and can’t afford the fees charged by clinics and pharmacies can get the vaccines for free by calling the health district clinic for an appointment.