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Area braces to avoid swine flu

TRI-COUNTY AREA—H1N1 influenza, better known as swine flu, has hit close to home and is a concern for a number of people.
Because school is now back in session, the New York State Health Department is working with schools and county public health departments to vaccinate the most at-risk groups first in mid-October. Deborah Minor, Yates County Public Health director, said that list includes:
• Pregnant women
• Health care providers
• Emergency medical personnel
• Children and people six months to 24 years old
• People ages 25 to 64 with health concerns that could result in medical complications because of influenza
• People in contact with children under six months old
Minor explained that no flu vaccination is ever offered to children under six months old, so people in contact with them should get the shot. She said that public health will be working on vaccinating these groups. Minor said they would be getting the swine flu vaccinations sometime in mid-October and are also still waiting on guidance from the state and the Center for Disease Control. She added private practices would also be getting the swine flu vaccination in mid-October.
Minor said that the plan is most likely to bring the vaccinations to the target groups. The school districts in the area are already planning on administering voluntary vaccinations at the schools. She said that for health care personnel, the vaccine will probably be taken to where they work or given to the hospitals to administer themselves.
Loree MacKerchar, with Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital’s community department, said the hospital would not be offering the vaccine to the public. She said staff would be immunized for free, just like it is done with seasonal flu. She added private practioners would have the vaccine.
Pru Ferraro, chief nursing officer at Schuyler Hospital, said she is working with Schuyler County Public Health on getting the vaccine. She added it has already been ordered by the state.
“There will not be a charge for the vaccine,” said Minor about those scenarios.
She added there might be a cost if a private provider gave the shots, but it would be an administrative cost. Until the county public health department hears back from the state Minor is still not sure of the dosage sizes.
“We haven’t had definite guidance from the state,” she said. “It appears adults will only need one shot.”

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