County Health Department waits on vaccines; 1,200 H1N1 doses already administered here

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The Switzerland County Health Department has distributed the H1N1 vaccine to about 12-percent of the local population, which is up from 7-percent just a week ago.

Chris See of the Switzerland County Health Department said that the health department receives shipments of the vaccine periodically and without notice from distributors.

“We will continue to offer the vaccine until everyone in the county has been given the opportunity to take the H1N1 vaccine if they choose to,” Chris See said. “Our priority group is still children from 6 months to 18 years, asthmatics, pregnant women, and people considered by the CDC to be high risk. Again we ask if you are not in the above mentioned categories to consider waiting to receive the vaccine later in the year.”

The health department is encouraging everyone to consider being vaccinated this winter as more vaccine becomes available.

As far as confirmed cases, Chris See said that the number of confirmed cases has risen slightly since last week’s total of 20, but the county health department and state health agencies continue to monitor the situation.

When the H1N1 virus first came to the public’s attention; tests done here were sent to the state health department for confirmation.

That doesn’t happen anymore.

Because of the growing number of cases, Chris See said that the local health department is doing a “rapid test” on people here, which involves a nasal swab. The test takes about 10 minutes to complete, and confirms if the person has Influenza Type A.

“The state is telling us that 96-98 percent of all positive Influenza A tests is H1N1,” Chris See said. “We’re treating it like it’s H1N1.”

Chris See said that in the past week the county health department received an additional 500 vaccines, which were a combination of injections and the nasal mist. As of Wednesday morning, all of those had been given to county residents; and the health department was awaiting another shipment.

As the health department and the Switzerland County community awaits more vaccines, health officials are telling everyone to continue to check to see if more vaccines are in the county. Updates are being provided to the local radio station; and are also being posted on the Vevay Newspapers website, www.vevaynewspapers.com as information becomes available.

To date, the Switzerland County Health Department has administered 1,200 H1N1 vaccines – 600 injections and 600 nasal mists.



There has also been some concern around the county about the nasal mist – specifically since it is a “live virus”.

Chris See said that it is indeed a ‘live’ virus, but it is unable to mutate or reproduce.

“The chances of a person spreading the virus as a result of the nasal mist are slim to none,” Chris See said. “We have information sheets in the health department if anyone has any concerns or fears. The CDC says that there’s nothing to worry about with the live virus, and it’s been 92-percent effective compared to a placebo.”

Chris See said that one person who came into the health department recently told him that the person had heard that people taking the nasal vaccine had to stay away from other people for 10 days.

“That’s a total myth,” Chris See said.

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Chris See said that as word about H1N1 spreads, and as the vaccines become available around country, the local health department continues to receive calls from residents who have questions about the vaccine, as well as both the seasonal and H1N1 influenza.

Here are some of the more frequently asked questions:

– When can I get the H1N1 shot?

The Center of Disease Control has created target groups that are recommended to receive vaccine first. We are going to try to follow those guidelines as close as possible. We are going to offer vaccine to local schools, local healthcare workers, and volunteers helping give out H1N1 vaccine. These groups are going to be given priority due to their increased risk of H1N1 exposure. We then intend on giving vaccinations to target groups that are listed on the CDC website.

After all target groups have been offered the vaccination then we will offer the vaccine to everyone else. Of course this is all depending on the availability of the vaccine. So when you might receive the shot is still a question, I can assure we will not stop vaccinating until all county residents have been offered the vaccine.

– Can you get H1N1 from the vaccine “live or dead”?

No, an individual cannot get the flu from the flu shots, live or dead. However once your receive the flu shot it takes about two weeks for your body to build up its immunity. So though you can’t get sick from the flu shot, there have been people that are exposed to an influenza prior to their body having complete immunity resulting in influenza type symptoms.

Also keep in mind that flu shots are created to combat a certain strain of influenza virus. There are other virus, such as a stomach virus, that may cause illness and flu-like symptoms. Please keep in mind that many different illness have similar signs and symptoms (fever, sore throat, body aches, coughing, etc.).

– If I have been exposed to H1N1 and did not get sick should I still get vaccinated?

Yes, if you did not get sick after being exposed does not mean you are immune. People that have been exposed to H1N1 should still consider the vaccine.

– What is the nasal flu mist and is it safe?

The nasal flu mist Chris See would compare to using any sinus nasal spray. There is no needle and a small amount of product with the same consistency of water is inhaled in the nose. It is safe and effective for healthy people ages 2 to 49.

– How many shots will children have to receive?

Children between the ages of 6 months and 9 years old will be required to get two shots separated by 3 to 4 weeks. The second shot is considered a “booster” shot and is needed in order to make our children fully vaccinated.

– What if I don’t want my child to get the live vaccine “FluMist”?

Parents have the right to accept or decline any of the H1N1 vaccination. Recent reports indicate that the “dead virus” will be the most common vaccine distributed. We will only receive a very small amount of the FluMist (live virus) vaccine and it will most likely be reserved people with an allergy to eggs and/or thimerasol.

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More information can be obtained by calling 427-9015; or contact the local health department 427-3220.