March 22 • 02:17 AM

Health officials monitor H1N1

Supplies of vaccine for the disease should be plentiful within 2 weeks

October 14, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — Health officials in Lapeer and St. Clair counties are taking action to inform the public about the possible spread of the H1N1 flu virus.

In Lapeer County, Health Director Stephanie Simmons says increasing numbers of presumed H1N1 cases are being reported in the county. Michigan had been one of the few Midwestern states not reporting widespread influenza as of last week.

Public Health Nurse Administrator Joyce Baron confirms that the H1N1 virus (also referred to as Swine Flu) is in the county, though its symptoms mimic an upper respiratory virus that is also being reported countywide.

"We know that it's here," says Baron, "but it is not out of control and there is no reason for alarm. We are monitoring its spread very closely and keeping a watchful eye on schools and places of employment, which are often our first indicators."

In an effort to update local employers and human resource representatives, the Health Department will present an H1N1 Forum Friday, Oct. 16 from 8-9 a.m. at 1800 Imlay City Rd. in Lapeer.

The focus of the meeting will be to provide employers with the latest information on H1N1 and advice about actions they can take in the workplace to minimize its spread.

Vaccine on the way

Baron says supplies of the H1N1 vaccine are beginning to trickle into the county and should be in ample supply within the next two weeks.

"We've been getting small shipments (of the vaccine) and are working with our local physicians and pharmacies to get it distributed to the public," says Baron. "Hopefully, we'll have a full supply by the third week in October."

While the H1N1 vaccine will soon be readily available, Baron says the delivery of seasonal flu vaccine is running slightly behind schedule, due to shipping delays from the manufacturers.

Fortunately, she says, cases of seasonal influenza typically do not appear before February or March.

Baron says doses of the H1N1 vaccine will be administered to those who face the greatest risk from contracting the disease. They include:

Health officials in Lapeer and St. Clair counties report that the H1N1 virus is here; but there will soon be ample supply of the vaccine for residents.
•Pregnant women.

•Caregivers of children six months old and younger.

•Health care workers.

•Those with underlying health conditions.

•Children 6 months old through adults up to age 50.

Baron says health care workers are high on the list because they are responsible for caring for the sick; while adults over 50 have often developed an immunity to the H1N1 virus.

For more information, contact the Lapeer County Health Department at 810-667-0391 or 810-667-0448.

In St. Clair County, health officials report that initial doses of the H1N1 vaccine are expected to arrive soon.

The first doses will be a nasal mist, which come with restrictions for use, including pregnancy, age 50-plus and the presence of other health conditions.

Vaccination clinics in St. Clair County schools are being scheduled for late October and early November, pending the receipt of additional doses, including shots.

Private providers and pharmacies will be administering the vaccine as well. Vaccine clinic schedules will be posted on the Health Department's Web site at:

For more information, contact Susan Amato, St. Clair County Director of Health Education & Planning at 810-987-5300, ext. 1510.

Both health departments offer personal protection reminders to control the spread of the H1N1 virus.

They include:

•Wash hands often or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

•Cover coughs and sneezes with tissue or sleeve.

•Stay home when you are sick for 24 hours or until after the fever is gone.

•Avoid close contact with those who are sick.

•Frequently clean commonly-shared surfaces.

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