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StarBulletin.com

Hawaii inmates to get swine flu vaccine soon


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POSTED: Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hawaii inmates in high-risk groups are expected to receive swine flu vaccines shortly.

Prevention is needed to reduce the spread of the virus to other inmates due to close quarters, said Dr. Marc Rosen, medical director of the Department of Public Safety. Those in high-risk groups include pregnant inmates and those with chronic health problems. “;The sooner we can vaccinate, the sooner we'll be more comfortable,”; said Rosen.

An estimated 4,000 inmates are in correctional facilities across the state.

Medical staff members in direct contact with patients also will receive vaccines to reduce the risk of passing the virus to family and the community.

The general prison population will receive vaccines when they are available to the general public. While the swine flu shots are voluntary, Rosen said inmates will be encouraged to get vaccinated.

An estimated 50 inmates experienced flulike symptoms last spring, but it is not known how many were diagnosed with swine flu after the state Health Department stopped reporting the number of cases in the latter part of July.

Those with symptoms were kept separated until they recovered.