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Swine flu vaccine arrives in Spokane

Appointments can be made next week

The first batch of swine flu vaccines have arrived in Spokane, though inoculation appointments to ward off the aggressive virus won’t begin until next week.

People can call the Spokane Regional Health District beginning at 8 a.m. Monday to schedule an appointment to receive a free vaccination. The number to call, (509) 324-1648, won’t be activated until Monday, according to a press release.

The 4,900 doses delivered are in the nasal-spray form made with a weakened live virus. Pregnant women and children younger than 2 years old are not allowed to have the vaccine in the nasal form.

Instead, these higher-risk people will be asked to wait until the vaccines are available in the form of shots – likely within two weeks, said Julie Graham, spokeswoman for the health district. Authorities expect tens of thousands more doses to arrive in the weeks ahead, but no exact number or time frame has been provided.

The first batches are arriving as cases of swine flu – also called the H1N1 influenza A virus – seem to be peaking, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in reports by PAML, a Spokane-based laboratory company that tracks flu numbers.

The first vaccine deliveries were placed into refrigerators Tuesday by health district employees and will be bolstered with additional doses in shot and nasal mist form in the next few weeks.

People who need the most protection will be given priority consideration. They are: pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months; people ages 6 months to 24 years; people ages 25 to 64 with chronic health problems; and health care and emergency response workers.

The doses to fight swine flu will first flow through the health district and then through providers that have placed orders.

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