MOULTRIE — Flue vaccines for H1N1 will be available beginning today, but the initial supply is limited and earmarked for children ages 2, 3 and 4.

Colquitt County Health Department received 300 doses of the nasal spray vaccine that uses a weakened live virus. The first shipment of the injectable version, which uses killed viruses, could be available as early as next week, officials said.

Manufacturers were able to turn out that nasal spray vaccine quicker than the injectable one, said Brenda Greene, deputy health director for the Southwest Public Health District.

Children ages 2 to 4 were chosen because they are the most likely to require hospitalization if sickened, she said.

The vaccine will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Because of the limited supply, district health is urging patience and for people to follow guidelines set forth earlier, including washing hands thoroughly, not touching the eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if sick.

“People are getting anxious because they are not in one of the groups to get the vaccine yet,” Greene said. “As it comes in we’ll target those groups that are most at risk for complications of H1N1. Eventually there should be enough for everybody to get it.”

In addition to the vaccine available at the health department, some physicians will be receiving some of the vaccine, so Green suggested that people who are in the anxious category contact their health care providers.

Among the priority groups for vaccination with the next shipment are hospital workers and other health care providers, Greene said.

Gary Boley, director of marketing at Colquitt Regional Medical Center, said Tuesday that he is not sure when that shipment is expected to arrive.

Greene said that Georgia health officials say H1N1 is still widespread in the state. A spike among school-age children was observed early in the school year, but that seems to have declined. Behind that, though, an increase has been seen among the parents of those children who were exposed to the virus.

Health officials recommended that parents of children ages 2 through 4 call the health department prior to going in because of the limited supply of the vaccine and the likely run on seeking the nasal spray.

Nine hundred doses of an initial shipment of the seasonal flu vaccine was given within four days of its arrival in Moultrie. The remaining 900 doses were earmarked for use in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and the Colquitt County School System. More is expected to arrive later.

As of Friday, 47 U.S. cities, states and territories had ordered nearly 1.38 million doses of the live-virus nasal spray, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The U.S. government has ordered 250 million doses of H1N1 vaccine.

Georgia is one of 27 states the CDC says is experiencing widespread flu activity, along with other Southern states Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.

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