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— If there are no further delays, the vaccine for the H1N1 flu will likely be here next month, Loy Bailey, county health director, said during a meeting of the Benton County Community Coalition on Thursday.

The coalition gathered at the Rogers Public Library to hear more about the swine flu, its upcoming vaccinations and more about how they can protect themselves and their families from the virus.

“We felt like (the flu) was obviously a very timely topic. Our (health) department started getting a lot of calls and a lot of different ideas about what was going on with the swine flu, the seasonal flu and avian flu,” Bailey said.

H1N1 is a new strain of the flu, there is very little or no natural immunity to the virus, and because of that, it is important to take precautions to guard against the virus as flu season gets closer and closer, Bailey said.

Because of the new nature of the virus and its vaccine, many were interested to hear more about the vaccinations.

The vaccine, likely to be administered in two doses, will be made available to local physicians who agree to administer the vaccine free of charge and to track who receives the vaccine, Bailey said, noting that doctors who agree to provide the shots will be allowed to charge an administrative fee for doing so.

People interested in obtaining the vaccine will simply have to check with their primary doctors to see if they plan on administering the vaccinations, Bailey said.

Seasonal flu vaccinations will be made available at the Benton County Health Department following this year’s mass-dispensing clinic scheduled for 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Oct. 30, at Riordan Hall in Bella Vista and at the East Gate Church of Christ in Siloam Springs, Bailey said.

Should the Health Department receive its supply of the H1N1 flu vaccinations before Oct. 1, the first of the two shots will also be administered during the mass-dispensing clinics, Bailey said. The second and final of the H1N1 flu vaccinations will be given four to six weeks after the first shot, Bailey said.

The vaccination contains a dead strain of the H1N1 flu and is undergoing standard testing that all vaccines must go through before being made available to the public, said Donna Miles, clinic coordinator for the Benton County Health Department.

“The not knowing what the scientific outcome of the tests are is going to matter. This is coming right off the conveyor belt to people, and that is scary,” said Sherry Lloyd, a member of the coalition.

“I think there is going to be a need for a little more information,” Lloyd said. Bailey agreed.

“The more knowledge sharing and the more the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, the more everybody benefits,” Bailey said.

Birth Announcements

Parents who wish to have birth announcements published in the Gentry Courier-Journal or the Decatur Herald will now need to submit the announcements directly

to the newspaper office. If parents wish to submit a birth announcement for publication, the following information will be needed:

• Parent(s) name and city and state of residence;

• Baby’s name, date of birth, place of birth, weight and length;

• Sibling first names;

• Grandparent names and city and state of residence;

• Great-grandparent names and city and state of residence; and

• A signed release and / or contact information from listed parents to verify information before publication. Information may be supplied to the newspaper directly by stopping by the office at 217 S. Gentry Blvd., Gentry; by mail to the Gentry Courier Journal, P.O. Box 677, Gentry, AR 72734 or to the Decatur Herald, P.O. Box 252, Decatur, AR 72722; or by e-mail to gentrynews @ nwanews.com or decaturnews @ nwanews.com.

For The Record, Pages 4 on 10/07/2009

Print Headline: Flu season discussed

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