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County Officials Urge Everyone to Take Swine Flu Seriously

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The first batch of H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccinations have arrived in Los Angeles County, health officials announced at a noon press conference today. 92,000 doses are here with larger shipments expected in coming weeks. By the end of the month, 1 to 1.5 million doses should be in local clinics and doctors' offices.

"This is an excellent form of vaccine," said County Health Officer, Jonathan Fielding, as he held up the FluMist, one of two versions available. Most people will end up receiving an injection because it will be more widely available.

In California, H1N1 has hospitalized 2,748 people and killed 206 to date.

"This needs to be taken very seriously," Fielding urged, explaining that he will even take the vaccine in front of reporters if he has to. He said people shouldn't listen to the controversy surrounding the medicine. "This is a serious disease and it needs to be treated that way."

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While those considered to be priority--children, elderly, healthcare workers--will get the first doses, people should start calling their doctor's offices next week. For the uninsured, the county will set up clinics. Locations and times have yet to be announced.

If someone catches a mild case of flu like symptoms, they should not go to the hospitals, said Fielding. Instead, stay at home, monitor your temperature, drink lots of clear fluids and avoid going out in public. "It may take 3 to 5 days for the fever to subside" followed by some respiratory symptoms like coughing, he explained.

Fielding also said "masks in general are not going to be helpful." However, if someone caring for a child in close proximity, that might be a situation where a mask would be warranted.

The federal government, state of California and county have all set up webpages to inform the public on the vaccine.