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D.C. Area Health Workers Await Delivery

(By Darron Cummings -- Associated Press)

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Health-care providers in the Washington region hope to receive the first shipments of vaccine for the swine flu virus, known as H1N1, this week.

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The first doses in Maryland, Virginia and the District are expected to arrive midweek, as early as Tuesday, according to state and local health officials. The vaccine will be shipped directly via FedEx or UPS to health-care providers on the list to receive it.

The initial availability of the vaccine will be strictly limited. The District has ordered 36,000 doses; Maryland has ordered 35,400 doses; and Virginia has ordered 43,500 doses, according to health officials. The first order will also test the distribution system for the vaccine.

Initially, it will largely be reserved for health-care workers, who are at high risk for exposure to the virus. As more doses arrive in coming weeks, state and local health agencies will begin offering it to populations at risk, such as young people between 6 months and 24 years old, pregnant women and people with underlying health problems.

In Virginia, "this is strictly for health-care workers and EMTs that may be assigned to a hospital," said Maribeth Brewster, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Health. "They're really the first line of defense."

For more information, visit flu.dc.gov in the District; www.vdh.state.va.us in Virginia; and dhmh.maryland.gov/swineflu/ in Maryland.

-- Nelson Hernandez

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