The state announced today that it hoped to have another round of mass swine flu vaccination clinics Dec. 7. Details:
Little Rock) – The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is planning a second round of mass vaccination clinics across the state to immunize Arkansans against both seasonal and H1N1 influenza.
Tentatively, the second round of clinics is set to begin on December 7, according to Randy Lee, director of ADH’s Center for Local Public Health. However, Lee emphasized that the starting date will have to be pushed back if the health department has not received enough vaccine by that time.
Lee said a final decision on whether the clinics will begin on December 7 will be made next Monday (November 30).
“We originally thought we would start these additional clinics right after the Thanksgiving holidays,” Lee said. “But we had to scrap that idea when it became obvious there just would not be enough vaccine available. We fervently hope we can begin on December 7, but that may not happen.
We are not going to give the green light for this effort to start until we have ample supplies of both seasonal and H1N1 vaccine on hand. We want to be able to give both H1N1 and seasonal vaccinations to all priority groups and, ideally, to all Arkansans who want them.”
Priority groups for H1N1 vaccine include:
∙ Pregnant women
∙ People who care for infants under 6 months old
∙ Children and young adults from 6 months—24 years of age
∙ Adults 25—64 years of age with underlying medical conditions
Health-care and emergency medical service personnel
Persons 65 and over are not a priority group for H1N1 vaccine because they are contracting the H1N1 virus in fewer numbers than those in priority groups, possibly because they have some immunity to it. However, those 65 and older do constitute a priority group for seasonal flu vaccine.
H1N1 vaccine is in short supply because the first time the virus was identified anywhere in the world was last April. It took scientists awhile to develop the protocols for making H1N1 vaccine, and production has been slower than anticipated because the vaccine does not grow as rapidly as scientists thought it would.
Relatively speaking, seasonal flu vaccine is in greater supply, but there have been isolated shortages of it as well because of increased overall demand for immunizations.
The second round of clinics follows the most ambitious vaccination effort in Arkansas history October 29-31. During this period clinics were held in every part of the state, and 149,491 doses of seasonal flu vaccine were administered along with 23,978 doses of H1N1 vaccine.
More than 900 facilities in Arkansas have expressed an interest in being able to distribute H1N1 vaccine, and H1N1 vaccine is now being shipped to some family practice physicians, internal medicine physician, obstetricians and gynecologists and some hospitals. Interested persons should check with their physicians for availability.
Symptoms of seasonal and H1N1 flu are the same and can lead to pneumonia and other life-threatening complications. Symptoms include fever greater than 100 degrees, headaches and body aches, coughing, sore throat, chills, fatigue, respiratory congestion, and, in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.
Both H1N1 and seasonal flu are highly contagious and easily spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing or by touching a hard surface with the virus on it and then touching the nose of mouth.
According to ADH, people can best avoid catching the flu by remembering the three C’s:
∙ Clean—properly wash your hands frequently
∙ Cover—cover your cough or sneeze
∙ Contain—contain your germs by staying home if you sick
To avoid spreading the flu, persons who are sick should limit their contact with others and remain at home until they feel better and until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever reducing medications.
The dates, times, and locations of upcoming mass flu clinics will be posted as soon as the schedule is finalized at www.healthyarkansas.com
. Complete flu prevention information is also available at this Web site or by calling 1-800-651-3493.