Following a successful countywide H1N1 flu vaccination clinic at Eastern Michigan University, the Washtenaw County Department of Public Health will offer another clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 at Pioneer High School, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.
The clinic will continue to focus on high-priority groups only, but that pool has expanded a bit to include all individuals 25 to 64 years of age with medical conditions putting them at a higher risk.
Increases in flu cases, both seasonal and H1N1, are expected to continue as the season progresses. According to county statistics, last fall’s respiratory illness rate hovered at about 10 cases per 1,000 students and peaked at 15 cases per 1,000 in December, compared with about 18 cases per 1,000 reported at the end of September 2009, just weeks after school began this fall.
Ann Arbor Public Schools nurse Laurelle Brennan is the district’s H1N1 nurse this year, assisting public health officials in planning for vaccination clinics as well as gathering absence reports and using this to track the progress of any illness.
Brennan suggests that parents inform themselves and consider individually what is best for their families. “They need to call their doctor and discuss their own family history and decide whether to get it,” she said.
County health officials said those groups include: pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months, health care and emergency medical services personnel with patient care, children from 6 months through 24 years of age and adults age 25 to 64 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk of flu complications. According to the county Web site, those conditions include: neurological disorders, chronic lung conditions (such as asthma), immune disorders, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, lung and liver disorders, chronic aspirin therapy and kidney disorders.
It is still unclear how much of the vaccine will be available to the general public around the county in the coming weeks. But Brennan said the federal government indicated “there will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it. It’s just a matter of when.” She said individual physicians must contract directly with the county to receive any of the H1N1 vaccine.
Brennan noted people can get both the seasonal and H1N1 vaccine at the same time – one in each arm. No live viruses are used to make the vaccines, she said.
Flu symptoms include a fever, aching body and, with the H1N1 virus, sometimes gastrointestinal problems. Brennan said if you’re sick, stay home and don’t infect others. “Obviously, if you have a fever, a constant cough, you should be at home and not coughing on others,” she added. “I will send kids home with a persistent cough.”
In a recent letter to area parents, Washtenaw County Medical Director Dr. Diana Torres-Burgos suggests: teaching children to wash hands frequently and not to share personal items, telling them to cover their coughs and sneezes, keeping them at home if they are sick and vaccinating them for both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu as vaccine is available.
“If your child is sick enough to stay home from school with flu-like symptoms, immediately report the illness to the school attendance office,” said Torres-Burgos in her letter. “This will help the school provide accurate information in its weekly disease reports to the Health Department. The Health Department will closely monitor flu trends, and will make decisions along with school officials regarding the best actions to take including school dismissal.”
Dismissals may occur if absenteeism due to the flu disrupts normal school functioning, Torres-Burgos said.
The 2009-10 influenza season officially began on Oct. 4. According to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, influenza activity remains elevated around the country with 99 percent of all influenza A viruses reported being H1N1 types. A total of 48 states are reporting elevated levels of flu activity.
Links for information and real-time updates:
www.aaps.k12.mi.us for updated information about any Washtenaw County H1N1 flu clinics scheduled in The Ann Arbor Public Schools.
www.flu.gov or call 800-CDC-INFO for general information from the federal government.
http://publichealth.ewashtenaw.org in Washtenaw County or call 734-544-6700 for general information and schedules for H1N1 and seasonal flu clinics.
www.michigan.gov/h1n1flu for Michigan flu statistics.
www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu has general information from the Centers for Disease Control about the H1N1 virus.
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