Swine Flu Vaccine Arrives in Washington Area
Wednesday, October 7, 2009; 2:03 PM
Thousands of doses of swine flu vaccine are flooding into the Washington region in the opening days of a national campaign against the spread of the virus.
Health officials in Maryland, Virginia and the District reported receiving the first few thousand of the millions of doses expected to be distributed nationwide.
They arrived as the H1N1 virus, known as swine flu, appears to be spreading. A private school in Laurel, St. Vincent Pallotti High School, was closed Wednesday for disinfection after 100 of its 500 students missed school, many complaining of illness. The school is expected to reopen Thursday after a cleaning crew wipes down common surfaces.
The first doses of the vaccine will be largely reserved for health-care workers at the greatest risk of exposure. But as more vaccine arrives, it will be made widely available to the people most likely to be seriously sickened by the virus: children, young adults, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions.
The doses received so far are in a nasal spray that uses a weakened form of the live virus. It is recommended for use only in healthy people ages 2 to 49, and should not be used by pregnant women. An injectable version that is safe for use by pregnant women and very young children is expected to be available by mid-October.
Some jurisdictions Wednesday began announcing their plans to distribute the vaccine.
The Anne Arundel County Health Department announced it would provide free doses of the nasal spray vaccine to eligible county residents Thursday and Friday at the Annapolis Health Center. An appointment can be scheduled at 410-222-4896.
Prince George's County officials said students at Dodge Park Elementary in Landover who had received permission from their parents also receive the vaccine Friday.
Barbara Brookmyer, the health officer for Frederick County, said the vaccine would be given to students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The first school where students are scheduled to receive the vaccine is Spring Ridge Elementary School in Frederick, she said. But she predicted that would not happen until mid-October because administrators still must receive consent from parents to administer the vaccine.