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H1N1 response 'gearing up'

Washington County has heightened its response to increased H1N1 influenza activity.

The county in recent days activated an "incident command system," committing a small number of the Public Health Department's staff of 90 to vaccination training and preparation and flu case monitoring. The number of employees shifted from normal duties to H1N1 activity likely will grow.

Additionally, a group of volunteer medical professionals throughout the county is rehearsing how it will respond when called upon to assist with H1N1 vaccinations.

And the county is working with schools, including District 833, to identify which school buildings will serve as mass flu vaccination sites for students. Those vaccinations are expected by late November, maybe earlier.

The county is taking much of its direction from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Health Department, said Jean Streetar, the county's spokeswoman for H1N1 response.

"They're saying we have to gear up for this," she said. "They're providing the staff funding to be able to do that."