Second H1N1 dose for kids encouraged

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With a now-bountiful supply of swine flu vaccine available in Washington state, health officials are encouraging parents to remember all kids under age 10 need two doses of H1N1 vaccine to be fully protected.

Many kids have not received that important second dose, officials say.

"It’s vital to make sure they take that final step to get the second dose that many kids need for the full effect," expained Mary Selecky, sate Secretary of Health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently said that no state had more than half of its children fully immunized against H1N1. A recent survey reported as high as 80 percent of kids under age 10 who received the first dose are overdue for the second dose.

A check of Washington state data shows similar results. Among children under 5, 181,000 got the first dose, but only about 36,000 got the second dose needed for full protection. Children 10 and older only need one dose.

There are still many children who haven’t been vaccinated against H1N1 at all, Selecky said.

People 65 and older are less likely to get H1N1 flu, but those who do are more likely to have complications or get secondary infections, such as pneumonia.

The H1N1 flu strain circulating in Washington and across the country is a new strain and no one can predict what’s going to happen. The virus could come back strong, health officials caution. There is enough vaccine now for everyone in the state who wants it.

For Walla Walla-based information go to www.co.walla-walla.wa.us/departments/phd/.

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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