With a quick spray into both nostrils, Valarie Moody became the first person in the Tampa Bay area to receive the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
The 42-year-old from Madeira Beach, who works at the Pinellas County Health Department, received the vaccine about 2 p.m. Friday, a few hours after Pinellas and Hillsborough health officials received their first shipments of 7,000 doses apiece.
All of the initial doses are the nasal spray, which can be used only by people ages 2 to 49 with no underlying medical conditions.
Both departments plan to distribute the first doses to public health clinics. Vaccination of high-risk populations could be begin as early as Monday, said Hillsborough health department spokesman Steve Huard.
Florida is among a majority of states that are reporting widespread swine flu. Though most cases have been mild, more than 100 Floridians have died of the virus.
Those encouraged to receive the nasal spray include healthy people ages 2 to 24, people who care for infants younger than 6 months, health care workers and emergency personnel.
Other vaccine priority groups, including pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions, will have to wait until the injectable vaccine arrives in the coming weeks.
Moody, who works in human resources, said she filled out an employee questionnaire some weeks ago and indicated she would be interested in receiving the vaccine in either form. On Friday, department spokeswoman Maggie Hall came calling.
Moody sat in a second-floor conference room at the health department's main office in St. Petersburg, surrounded by seven TV cameras as immunization supervisor Tina Williams administered the vaccine.
"It's an honor to be the first, to send the message that it's okay to get the vaccine," Moody said.
Richard Martin can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8330.