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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sherri McDonald, Director-Thurston County Public Health and Social Services,  360-867-2502 or 360-239-1520

More Places to Find H1N1 Vaccine in Thurston County

OLYMPIA - Thurston County, along with other counties in Washington State, is broadening the use of H1N1 (Swine) flu vaccine to include all individuals over 6 months of age regardless of risk status or age. This means that people who are at higher risk for complications from the flu, as well as those who are not, can be vaccinated to better protect themselves from H1N1. In Thurston County, this change went into effect Wednesday, December 9. Statewide, the supply of H1N1 vaccine appears to be catching up with demand.

Numerous local health care providers have been offering H1N1 flu vaccine to their high risk patients over the past several weeks. Starting this week, 20 area pharmacies began offering H1N1 vaccine. Pharmacies are generally open most days of the week and are located throughout the county, making access to flu vaccine easier for area residents. Paul Martin, pharmacist and owner of Martin's Southgate Drug said "No one is more available than pharmacies. Partnering with the Health Department makes good fiscal sense and is a prudent use of resources."

"Pharmacies are providing a valuable service to our community," said Sherri McDonald, Director of Thurston County Public Health & Social Services. "The people they are serving may not have a health care provider."

In Thurston County demand for vaccine has been fairly high. With the expansion of eligibility beyond high risk groups, it may be difficult for health care providers and pharmacies to give vaccine to everyone who wants it.

The Health Department has received about 30% of the H1N1 vaccine that is coming to Thurston County, with the rest yet to arrive. The pace of vaccine arrival is expected to increase over the next several weeks. "With eligibility broadened and more vaccine arriving, we hope more pharmacies and health care providers will sign up to provide H1N1 vaccine. Currently, more than 70 health care practices are participating and we want that number to increase to include more," said Sherri McDonald. The number of new cases of flu-like illness continues to decrease, however public health officials are concerned that an increase, or 'third wave', of H1N1 flu may occur this winter.

With holiday get-togethers being planned and community gatherings occurring, the following basic precautions can prevent further spread of flu.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Cough into your elbow if a tissue is not available.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are spread this way.

• Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, if you have a flu-like illness. Stay home when sick with fever and cough. Avoid holiday get-togethers when sick.

A list of participating pharmacies, including exact locations and hours, can be found online at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health. Pharmacies accept insurance and self-pay, no one will be turned away due to inability to pay . Most pharmacies are by appointment only, please call ahead.

More information about H1N1 (Swine) Flu can be obtained by calling the flu information line at 360-709-3080.

Pharmacy Locations-

     • Lacey - Fred Meyer, QFC, 3 Safeway locations, Albertson's, Target.

     • Olympia - Capitol Medical Center, 2 Safeway locations, Albertson's, Target.

     • Tumwater - Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons, Martin's Southgate Drug.

     • Yelm - Safeway, Tim's Pharmacy.

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3