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Health officials: H1N1 vaccine available in November

By By Lydia Grimes
Vaccines for the H1N1 flu virus will likely be available around the first of November, Escambia County Health Department director Ricky Elliott said Thursday.
Speaking to members of the Escambia County School Board, Elliott said vaccinations will be available to any students who want to receive them.
The state health department said Friday it expects to receive 600,000 courses of novel H1N1 vaccine by October, followed by an additional 300,000 doses every two weeks. H1N1 developed last spring and was initially called “swine flu.”
Escambia County Schools Superintendent Billy Hines expressed the willingness of the school system to work with the health department to make sure that everything goes the way it should.
There have been no confirmed cases of H1N1 in Escambia County Schools as of last week, and school officials have said they are working hard to make sure students follow basic precautions, such as washing their hands and coughing into their sleeves rather than their hands.
Randall Little, assistant superintendent of the Escambia County School System, said that the school system has already made plans with the school nurses in order for vaccinations to go smoothly.
State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson said Friday that the state health department has advised doctors that routine tests to confirm H1N1 are not necessary. More than 99 percent of all positive influenza samples tested by the Bureau of Clinical Laboratories during the past four weeks were positive for the flu strain, Williamson said.
People with influenza-like illness should remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100 degrees F) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. This is often three to five days.
The state health department and schools have encouraged faculty and students who are sick to stay home. The health department also urged businesses to give their employees the same advice.