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Federal Way health watch: Immunizations and swine flu

It's a given that shortly after the first day of school in Western Washington, the rain will begin — and the flu and cold season will kick in with a vengeance.

The start of school also brings a list of immunizations required for school age children.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, students must have three doses of hepatitis B shots, shots for diphtheria, three to four shots for tetanus and pertussis, three to four doses for the polio vaccine, two doses of shots for measles, mumps or rubella, and one to two doses for varicella (chicken pox).

For students who still need immunizations, the Federal Way School District and Public Health Department is again holding an immunization clinic from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Federal Way Public Health Center, 33431 13th Place S.

For students in kindergarten through age 18, there will be immunizations for chicken pox, measles, mumps and rubella, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis B available.

There will be no flu or HPV vaccines available at the clinic. The event is free.

"This is an opportunity, especially for parents who may not the those resources," district spokeswoman Diane Turner said.

Students must come with their parents, and must bring their immunization records.

Staying healthy

Although the flu shot will not be offered at the clinic, the school district is keeping an eye on the looming flu season.

The H1N1, or swine flu virus, is expected to be back again this year. King County Health Department recommends that those vulnerable to the flu should get a vaccine for both the H1N1 flu and seasonal influenza.

A vaccine for H1N1 is expected to be available in mid-October.

The health department encourages the following people to get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as possible: Pregnant women; those ages 6 months to 24 years old; people with health conditions that could prove dangerous with the flu, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma or those with a lowered immune system; household members or caregivers of children younger than six months; and health care workers and emergency medical service providers.

Symptoms of H1N1 are similar to a regular flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

The King County Health Department recommends most suffers of H1N1 to stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever has stopped to prevent the spread. In most cases, medical care is not necessary for H1N1. However, the health department recommends seeking medical care for the following:

• If there is chest pain or trouble breathing.

• If the illness is rapidly worsening.

• If the person is unresponsive or won't make eye contact.

• A severe sore throat that prevents swallowing or a severe cough.

• If the fever lasts for more than three days.

Schools are often ground zero for the cold and flu season, and the Federal Way School District is already working on reiterating preventive care to students, including covering their mouths when sneezing or coughing, and staying home when sick.

"The information is on our Web site," Turner said, referring to www.fwps.org. "We are making sure staff and parents have the most current information. Information is power."

For more information and updates, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/H1N1 or call the flu hotline at (877) 903-5464.

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