Sunday, 14 July 2024

Officials report doctors' visits are up for flu-like illness; vaccine hasn't yet arrived

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County Public Health officials reported Tuesday that increased visits to local health providers for influenza-like illness are indicative of the presence of the H1N1 Influenza A virus.


The news comes a day after health officials confirmed the first H1N1-related death in the county – a middle-aged man who died in the middle of last month, as Lake County News has reported.


Like counties throughout the state, influenza activity is widespread in Lake County, and the overwhelming majority of it is the new H1N1 strain, officials reported.


Concern and frustration have recently mounted as the race to manufacture and distribute the vaccine has not been as fast as originally hoped and predicted, according to Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait.


“Vaccination is our most effective weapon against influenza,” said Tait.


Since very small amounts of vaccine have been delivered to Lake County so far, it has been used to vaccinate target groups recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, Tait's office reported.


Formulations of the vaccine developed for use by pregnant women and children younger than age 3 years – two groups at increased risk for influenza complications – have not yet arrived. Lake County Public Health and the local health care community are working together to coordinate vaccination efforts.


So far, a total of 1,200 doses of vaccine have been delivered to Lake County.


“For a population of approximately 65,000 people, that is a very small amount,” say Dr. Tait. We are currently working to vaccinate emergency medical services personnel and front-line health providers who treat influenza patients on a daily basis.”


As frustrating as the seeming delays in vaccination production are, Dr. Tait pointed out that these delays are unavoidable and need to be viewed in the context of history.


“Not too many years ago, we would have considered this rapid development of a vaccine to be a scientific breakthrough. Even now, the speed of vaccine production is limited by factors beyond anyone’s control – you can’t always rush ‘Mother Nature.’ We are still fortunate to have any

vaccine to use just six months after the appearance of a new strain.”


Lake County Public Health expects additional vaccine to come into the county – both to local Public Health as well as health providers who have requested supplies – over the coming weeks and months.


The delivery schedule and quantities of vaccine being shipped remain unpredictable, so patience on the part of health providers and the Lake County community is needed.


“I wish we could be more specific with how this will roll out,” says Dr. Tait, “but we’re all in the same boat. Rest assured, though, that we are poised to move forward quickly with vaccination activities as soon as supplies arrive.”


In the meantime, good infection control measures are of paramount importance. These include covering

coughs and sneezes, staying home when ill, and regularly cleaning frequently-touched surfaces.


Illness from the Pandemic 2009 (H1N1) Influenza A virus is mild in the majority of cases and can usually be treated at home like other common viral infections.


However, people of all ages with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, and very young children may experience more severe forms of the infection and should seek medical advice early, if they become ill.


Public Health authorities are now statistically tracking only confirmed influenza patients who require

treatment in intensive care units and deaths.


To date, only one resident of Lake County has required intensive care for confirmed H1N1 infection and there has been one death. As laboratory test results become available, the number of Lake County cases is expected to increase.


Because laboratory testing is not recommended in all cases of influenza illness, there are many more cases in the community than statistics indicate.


Information about vaccination opportunities will be provided as soon as it becomes available.


For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov and www.flu.gov .


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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