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First shipments of H1N1 flu vaccine expected in L.A. within a week

October 2, 2009 |  1:50 pm

Los Angeles public health officials announced today that they expect to receive the first shipments of H1N1 flu vaccine within a week.

Local clinics and doctor's offices will receive small shipments of the FluMist nasal spray vaccine as soon as Wednesday, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health this morning.

"While the FluMist nasal spray vaccine may not be appropriate for everyone, we do encourage those who can receive this form of the vaccine to get it," said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s director of public health. "We especially encourage eligible, school-aged children to receive the FluMist H1N1 vaccine. We had expected to see an increase in flu cases once the school year started, and those predictions have come true. Most cases of the pandemic H1N1 flu continue to present mild to moderate symptoms, but some individuals have had serious complications."

Larger shipments of the vaccine -- in both the nasal spray and the traditional injectable form -- are expected to arrive later this month, according to the department’s statement.

Residents eligible for the vaccine are encouraged to contact their doctor. Those eligible include people ages 2 to 24; healthcare and emergency medical workers and those who live with or care for infants under 6 months old. For more information about flu prevention and eligibility for the H1N1 vaccine, visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.

FluMist is not approved for pregnant women, those with chronic health conditions, weakened immune systems, or a history of asthma.

Later this month, public health officials plan to begin providing the H1N1 vaccine to the uninsured and those who do not have a regular healthcare provider. To find a private clinic, pharmacy or provider offering the H1N1 vaccine or the seasonal flu vaccine, visit http://www.findaflushot.com

"It is vital that residents of Los Angeles County do everything they can to protect their health and the health of their loved ones and community. This is best done through getting vaccinated against the flu, and practicing good, basic hygiene," Fielding said. "This includes washing your hands often; covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze; avoiding touching your mouth, nose and eyes; and staying home if you are sick or keeping your child home if he or she is sick."

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske