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Community immunity: Vaccinate now to fend off H1N1 “third wave” later

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Published on Fri, Jan 15, 2010 by JOURNAL STAFF

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H1N1 (swine) influenza first blossomed in Snohomish County in Spring 2009 before vaccine to fight it was available. This past autumn a second wave of H1N1 illness fell upon the region. Initially, slow vaccine production led to delayed and low local supply of vaccine, requiring local public health to vaccinate only the most vulnerable people. When supply caught up to demand in December, eligibility requirements were lifted––and now there is plenty of vaccine on hand to immunize everyone who wants it.

“A ‘third wave’ of H1N1 illness is a real concern – unless half the population has immunity to the virus,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of Snohomish Health District. “People develop immunity through vaccination or through illness. We estimate that between 30 and 40 percent of our community has some immunity to H1N1, but we need to boost that to 50 percent to stop the virus in its tracks, preventing a third round of illness in Snohomish County.”

Influenza is unpredictable, but is expected to continue circulating for months, caused by either 2009 H1N1 viruses or regular seasonal influenza viruses. In the Pacific Northwest, flu season usually peaks in March.
As of mid-December, Snohomish County medical providers and pharmacies have received about 200,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine since mid-September. Retail chain store pharmacies now stock it as well, making vaccine readily available throughout the county. Additionally, Snohomish Health District administers H1N1 vaccine at no cost through its two clinics by appointment.

Call 425-339-5220 for an appointment in Everett (3020 Rucker Ave, Suite 108), and 425-775-3522 in Lynnwood (6101 – 200th St SW, Suite 100).

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