Swine flu vaccine now available in Freeland, and it works

Grin and bare it: South Whidbey School Superintendent Fred McCarthy sets an example for public school children by getting his swine flu shot at Linds Pharmacy in Freeland on Tuesday. - Jeff VanDerford / The Record
Grin and bare it: South Whidbey School Superintendent Fred McCarthy sets an example for public school children by getting his swine flu shot at Linds Pharmacy in Freeland on Tuesday.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Record

FREELAND — When it comes to the swine flu vaccine, Christine Parker is a believer.

When healthcare worker Parker came down with the H1N1 flu — commonly called swine flu — the first thing she did was inadvertently pass it on to her husband and 20-year-old-son.

As Fire District 3 volunteers, they were eligible for the H1N1 inoculation.

“They had gotten their shots the night before, but they were too late,” she recalled.

The good news was that her 11-, 12- and 18-year-old children were unaffected.

“They had gotten their shots earlier and the vaccine worked,” she said. “The three of us were sick for a week and they skated right through it.”

Parker works for Linds Pharmacy in Freeland. On Tuesday, she and Myrna Liddell were helping Island County registered nurse Whitney Christiansen administer swine flu shots to eligible South End residents.

“Most of the 40 people here this morning were seniors with a prescription,” Liddell said.

Liddell runs the durable medical unit for Linds and organized the event, which will run from 9 a.m. to noon every Tuesday at least until the end of the year.

Until more of the vaccine becomes available, there are some restrictions: At the moment, pregnant women, infant children caregivers, healthcare workers or those younger than 24 can be inoculated.

Those older than 24 must have a doctor’s prescription.

The vaccine is provided free to the county by the federal government, but has authorized a maximum $16 fee for its administration by the pharmacy at Linds.

“Our supplies are OK, but we don’t know when they are going to change the priority grouping to include more people of different ages,” Liddell said. “Most of those we’ve seen seem to be fairly well-educated about the H1N1 program and its restrictions.”

She added that the primary reason for getting the shot is to prevent an outbreak from spreading throughout the country.

Another person who believes that the swine flu vaccine works is South Whidbey School Superintendent Fred McCarthy.

“I really encourage all students, teachers and parents to take advantage of this program and get a shot,” he said. “Right now, the district has a high level of immunization among the student population and our school nurses have been working closely with county healthcare officials even before the school year began in September.”

Linds is hosting a special H1N1 clinic from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 to accommodate children older than 6 months and those younger than 24 years old (identification is required), and people in other priority groups who bring in a prescription. Those include caregivers of infants younger than 6 months.

Meanwhile, the regular flu vaccine clinic at Linds will continue, from 9 a.m. to noon each Tuesday through December.

For more information, call Liddell at 331-4763.

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