Saturday, 24 February 2024

Officials: More H1N1 vaccine arriving in Lake County

LAKE COUNTY – County health officials reported Wednesday that vaccine to counter the H1N1 flu is slowly making its way into the county, but large vaccination clinics aren't likely to happen locally any time soon.


Lake County Health Services said that 9,000 doses have arrived in Lake County so far, and another 9,000 individual doses are expected in multiple shipments over the next two months.


So far, the H1N1 influenza has been the cause of one local man's death, as Lake County News has reported.


Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait said vaccinations for community members will continue to take place through a combination of local clinics, pharmacies and doctor’s offices as well as vaccination clinics targeting the highest risk groups, health officials reported.


“While we are happy to see this vaccine, it is not arriving in sufficient quantities at a given time to allow us to schedule mass vaccination clinics, which we had hoped to be doing before the end of the calendar year,” said Tait.


Instead, Tait recommended continuing the current strategy of working with local health providers to administer the vaccinations.


“By partnering with local health providers, we can continuously push this vaccine out to the public and can concentrate on first reaching those at highest risk for medical complications,” she said. “We are also able to vaccinate those who may expose patients, young babies, and others who are vulnerable to

complications.”


The priority groups recommended for vaccination earliest include pregnant women, household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency medical services personnel, all people from 6 months through 24 years of age, and individuals aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.


One of the most challenging messages to get across is that persons 65 and over – usually one of the main targets for seasonal influenza vaccination – should plan on waiting until after these five target groups have been vaccinated, Tait reported.


The exception, according to Tait, would be for persons over 65 years old who fit into one of the defined groups, such as those who care for young infants. The risk for H1N1 infection in persons age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups.


Lake County Health Services reported that it is using its limited vaccine supplies to vaccinate people who fall into the target groups, including those who may otherwise have limited access to health services.


The Public Health division does not yet have sufficient vaccine to accommodate “all comers,” but will accept referrals of eligible individuals whose own doctors are unable to provide the vaccine, Tait reported.


In this case, the referral to Public Health should be made by the doctor’s office or clinic. Dr. Tait pointed out that everyone needs to have a “medical home” with a local health care provider, so this is an opportunity to get established with a local doctor.


Although influenza illness continues to be widespread throughout the county and the state, there are indications that it may be starting to taper off, Tait said. The trend will be clearer over the coming

weeks.


“Even if flu activity does subside, we could experience additional waves of H1N1 over the coming months as well as the appearance of seasonal influenza strains later in the year,” Tait said. “However, I do feel optimistic that we are coping well with this pandemic and that we may have seen the worst. Of course, time will tell.”


The public should still continue to practice good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes), and regular cleaning of frequently touched environmental surfaces, health officials said.


Vaccination against H1N1 influenza is recommended, as additional vaccine becomes available, regardless of when it arrives. Checking periodically with health providers for vaccine is recommended, yet patience is also needed as long as vaccine production lags behind demand, according to the health department.


For more information about H1N1, visit www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/SwineInfluenza.aspx , www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/ , 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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