Local residents who want to protect themselves from seasonal flu this coming season are encouraged to get their vaccines soon. Those at higher risk who are strongly encouraged to get the shots are people over 65, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions. The target group is different for the H1N1 swine flu according to Keith Larsen, Emergency Services Director for the Bear River Health Department. Larsen says that target group is pregnant women, children age six months to 24 years, health care workers with direct patient contact and those with household contact of those 6 months or younger. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show last week, Larsen said the H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive from mid-October to the first of November. He says the health department has been working with schools who have been very cooperative. “What parents can expect is that at some point, about two weeks before the clinics, they’ll get a letter that will come to them and it will have information on the influenza vaccine, the H1N1 influenza vaccine, then a permission slip,” Larsen said. “If they so choose they can sign that permission slip and send it back with their son or daughter to the school.” Larsen also explained that there is no requirement that students get the vaccine. “The vaccine is not mandatory and it is free,” he said. “The federal government is sending us everything but the band-aids.” He says parents who want their kids to have the vaccine will be scheduled for a clinic to be held at the school. Larsen says USU is also taking care of its population and day care centers will be included in the effort to reach that particular target group.
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