Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Officials: H1N1 flu vaccination campaign nears halfway mark

LAKE COUNTY – Health officials reported that they're broadening their strategy to get the H1N1 flu vaccine to Lake County residents.

Over the next few weeks, Lake County Health Services projects that local health providers will have collectively received approximately 16,000 doses of Pandemic 2009 (H1N1) vaccine since the beginning of the pandemic in spring of this year.

According to information from the California Department of Public Health, this will mark the approximate half-way mark for the total amount of H1N1 vaccine that will be distributed this influenza season.

The flu has so far claimed the life of one Lake County resident, as Lake County News has reported.

Pandemic 2009 (H1N1) influenza illness remains widespread in Lake County and throughout California, according to Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait.

Although the amount of illness may be starting to level off, influenza illness remains at higher than normal levels for this time of the year, she said.

Tait said vaccination efforts to date are thought to have reached roughly 10 percent of the Lake County population overall and there are concerns that shortages of the formulations licensed for children under age 3 years have hampered vaccination of this vulnerable group.

“It appears that the pediatric formulation of vaccine will remain in short supply this year,” said Tait, noting that this appears to be the result of production issues.

Although parents can choose to have their young children vaccinated with a preparation of the vaccine usually used in persons 3 years of age and older – an option made possible by a state waiver to its law concerning use of vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal – Lake County is also shifting its vaccine strategy in order to reduce the likelihood that adults will contribute to the spread the infection, Tait reported.

Lake County residents of all ages can now request a Pandemic 2009 (H1N1) vaccination, according to Tait.

“We want everyone to consider vaccination against H1N1 influenza anyway, but by shifting to this broader vaccination approach now, we hope to reduce the amount of influenza in the community that may expose children who remain unvaccinated due to shortages of vaccine for their specific age group,” she said.

Health officials say the youngest children are the most vulnerable to influenza infection and have the highest rates of hospitalization when they do become ill.

Vaccine has been arriving in small shipments of varying quantities of the different preparations intended for people of different ages and states of health. The limited and unpredictable quantities have made it challenging to publicize vaccine availability or to offer large vaccine clinics, Tait noted.

“We definitely don’t want to schedule a large vaccination event and have to turn people away,” said Tait.

In addition to efforts of local health care providers to vaccinate their patients, the local pharmacies that

offer vaccination services have improved access to the vaccine in Lake County.

Lake County Public Health recommends that local residents continue to seek H1N1 vaccination over the coming months.

Vaccination can be obtained in any of the following ways: Check with your doctor or clinic to see if they have vaccine available; check with your local pharmacy; check with Lake County Public Health.

Vaccine supplies are expected to be more plentiful in early 2010.

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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