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Flu vaccines hard to come by

Doctors advise that getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid the flu this fall.

Good luck with that.

Supplies of the seasonal flu vaccination are low and few North Kitsap pharmacies are holding clinics. The Kitsap County Health District has received about 9,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine, but is so far only doling them out to residents in high risk groups, beginning with health care workers.

Bainbridge Pediatrics, off Sportsman Club Road, is offering H1N1 nasal spray to people between the ages of 2 and 24 who do not have other medical conditions. The island practice is also administering seasonal flu shots to children under the age of 3. It will host a first-come, first-serve clinic from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday.

More details on the vaccines can be found at www.bainbridgepediatrics.com.

Office Manager Jennifer Ottmer said Bainbridge Pediatrics has administered about 700 doses of the vaccine so far.

“We’re trying to get it out as fast as we can,” Ottmer said.

Vaccines for the familiar seasonal flu are also in short supply. Employees at several North Kitsap pharmacies and clinics said they were already out of the vaccine, and were not sure when more would arrive.

Group Health’s Poulsbo office does have seasonal flu vaccines and will host a clinic 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 28. North Kitsap Family Practice has a very limited supply of seasonal flu vaccines available by appointment.

Health District spokesman Scott Daniels said Kitsap residents should contact their health care providers for up to date information on the availability of vaccines.

An estimate found that 99 percent of flu cases are being caused by the H1N1 virus, Daniels said.

On Sunday, a Hansville man became the first Kitsap County resident to die from a confirmed case of H1N1 and two other people died here earlier this year (see a story on Page A1). Five other people were hopsitalized in the county with H1N1 between Sept. 19 and Oct. 19, according to the Health District.

North Kitsap School District spokesperson Chris Case wrote in an email to families that absences due to flu-like symptoms have run between 2 and 12 percent at schools across the district. Most of the cases have been mild, she said.

Flu season tips

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the following guidelines to avoid contracting and spreading the flu:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others.

If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.

The Kitsap County Health District has compiled links to flu information at its Web site, www.kitsaphealth.com.

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