Some hospitals restricting visitors to prevent swine flu

Some hospitals restricting visitors to prevent swine flu

Credit: KING

Four public health clinics in King County are offering the swine flu vaccine free to uninsured high risk patients under 65.

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by JENNIFER CABALA / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 22, 2009 at 11:46 AM

SEATTLE - Two hospitals in Western Washington will begin restricting visitors to protect patients from getting sick; meanwhile, King County will extend free swine flu vaccination clinics for another day.

Four public health clinics in King County are offering the swine flu vaccine free to uninsured high risk patients under 65. They want to make sure those most likely to get serious complications from the flu are protected.

"I'm getting the swine flu shot for my daughter. She's four months old and I also have multiple sclerosis so I thought it was a good opportunity to protect her and me and the whole family," said Jennifer Steadman, patient.

Doctors say it's exactly those kinds of patients one who are at greater risk for serious complications or parents of babies too young to get the shot who should be getting the vaccine right now. So far supplies have been limited.

'We were hoping to have a lot more vaccine at this time and the production levels they were hoping to attain they weren't able to," said Dr. Charissa Fotinos, King County Chief Medical Officer. "Right now we're about a third of the doses we hoped for as a county."

But more is on the way; new supplies are coming in weekly. But because not everyone is able to get the vaccine, some hospitals are taking extra precautions.

Providence Hospitals in Olympia and Centralia say they will begin screening visitors to patients for flu like symptoms, and anyone showing symptoms will not be allowed to be near other patients. They say the risk is too great since the flu is proving deadly for a growing number of people.

The clinics say they still have enough vaccine to administer Thursday and will be offering the shot as long as they have supplies. CLICK HERE to learn more about the free swine flu vaccines for the uninsured at King County clinics.

State officials announced two more swine flu deaths: a five-month-old in Franklin County and a 67-year-old woman in Whatcom County.   Both had other, serious health conditions.

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