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H1N1 vaccine makes its debut in Kitsap County
Health care workers at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton received the first doses of the H1N1 influenza vaccine Wednesday after the initial shipment of 600 dosages arrived at the Kitsap County Health District.
Ellen Arthur, a registered nurse with the health district, said these first inoculations were the nasal swab type, but the injectable vaccine is on its way.
“The injectable has been ordered,” she said. “We are not sure when it will arrive, but it is coming.”
All 1,000 doses of the next shipment of vaccine also will be for health care workers, according to Arthur.
“We are vaccinating those with the highest priority,” she said. “We don’t want these health care workers to spread the virus.”
Cathy McDonald, a registered nurse at Harrison who is in charge of infection control, said the hospital is encouraging its eligible staff to get the vaccination.
“It is not mandatory,” she said. “But we are highly encouraging everyone to get it.”
Registered nurse Rebekah Mawrence, the first to receive the vaccination, said she wasn’t worried about the flu, but she understands why it is important for health care workers to get vaccinated.
Keith Sprague, a critical care registered nurse at the hospital, agreed with Mawrence and said he actually had contact with an H1N1-infected patient just last week.
“The patient’s mask slipped off, and as I leaned over him to adjust it, he coughed directly into my face,” he said. “I learned later he was infected.”
Sprague said one week later he is showing no signs of being ill, but he chose to be inoculated anyway.
“I am worried about H1N1,” he said. “It would have been easy for me to get it.”
Sprague also said the majority of doctors and nurses in the hospital are planning to get the vaccine.
“Everyone I talk to said they are getting it,” he said.
Not just nurses came out to get the vaccine either. Kitt Baldwin, a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Harrison, also received the nasal swab vaccine.
He said he puts no stock in the warnings about the vaccine some have called dangerous.
“I’m not worried about the vaccine,” Baldwin said. “It is innocuous.”
Nurses and doctors alike will take turns receiving the remaining doses of vaccine until the injectable arrives. The vaccine is expected to still be available to the public by mid-November.