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County begins H1N1 vaccines

Judy Curtis of Stillwater Medical Group administers a H1N1 flu vaccine for Cottage Grove firefighter Kristen Shannon Wednesday at the Washington County Service Center in Cottage Grove. The service center was the first site in the county where H1N1 vaccines were distributed for area healthcare and public safety professionals. Staff photo by Hank Long.

Washington County began administering H1N1 influenza vaccinations last week, but the public will have to wait a few weeks for a dose.

The county received 800 vaccination doses in nasal spray form and used three clinics in recent days to vaccinate county health-care workers and emergency medical responders. They are among priority recipients of the flu vaccine.

Washington County Public Health Director Lowell Johnson said the county will receive more H1N1 vaccine, in injection form, within a few weeks.

The general public probably will not have access to the vaccine until mid-November, Johnson said.

"We're not open to give the vaccine to anyone who wants it," Johnson said of the initial dose supply.

Children are next on the priority list for H1N1 vaccination, and public health officials are talking to area schools about "potentially" setting up vaccination clinics in school buildings, Johnson said.

At least 10 District 833 schools reported in recent days that more than 5 percent of students are absent with "influenza-like illness."