Swine flu vaccine arrives in Umatilla County

But it will be some time yet before it is available. A mass vaccination is set for Dec. 1.

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MILTON-FREEWATER -- H1N1 -- or swine flu -- vaccine has arrived in Umatilla County, but officials there are asking for patience from the public.

"Don't roll up your sleeves just yet," said Gennie Lehnert, administrator for the county's public health program. "The initial shipments have been comprised of mostly nasal vaccine and is available in very limited quantities, but there is no shortage."

A mass vaccination clinic has been scheduled for Dec. 1, 2-8 p.m., at the Milton-Freewater Community Building, 505 Ward St. No seasonal flu vaccine will be available at that clinic.

For those unable to make the clinic, the health department's Pendleton office at 200 S. E. Third St. will be open exclusively for H1N1 vaccinations Dec. 28-29 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

"This is clearly the most ambitious influenza vaccination program ever mounted in the United States or anywhere in the world," noted Sherena Clements, emergency preparedness coordinator for Umatilla County. "We must consider all planning aspects to best protect Umatilla County residents."

Vaccine will also be shared with several public-health partners as the county receives them. Individuals are encouraged to contact their health care provider to determine if they have H1N1 vaccine available. The initial swine flu vaccine will be administered to those in the highest risk groups: People 6 months-24 years old, pregnant women, household contacts of those younger than 6 months old, health-care and emergency service professionals and those 25-64 years old with chronic health disorders.

"I do want people to feel some sense of urgency about getting vaccinated. I think it's important," Lehnert said.

In the meantime wash your hands, cover that cough and stay home if you're sick, she added.

For more information call 541-278-5432.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom.

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