Swine flu, influenza vaccines due locally, in state in October

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 11, 2009

From staff and AP reports

Vaccines for influenza and swine flu are expected to be available in Warren County and throughout Mississippi by mid-October.

Although health care providers have begun receiving requests for inoculations, officials from the Warren County Department of Health and the Mississippi Department of Health said the vaccine is not available, and they are waiting for when the vaccine will be ready from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Warren County Health Department coordinating nurse Dale Clark said some people went to the office Thursday morning seeking vaccinations but had to be turned away.

Inoculations will be provided at county health departments, private physicians’ offices, community health centers, some pharmacies and clinics throughout the state.

Two flu shots are recommended for many Americans this fall.

Although MSDH studies show that almost all of influenza strains spreading through the state is swine flu, doctors expect some people to contract the regular influenza virus as well. Health authorities urge people to get their first inoculation before lines form for swine flu vaccine next month.

“The single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu is to get vaccinated,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Swine flu is the dominant strain of influenza throughout the world, “we must not let our guard down against seasonal influenza,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

More than 110 million regular winter flu shots are expected this year, according to a new estimate from the CDC.

Less than 100 million Americans seek flu vaccine, though health care providers recommend it for adults 50 and older, children ages 6 months to 18 years, pregnant women, people with chronic health problems like asthma, heart disease or a weak immune system, health workers and caregivers of high-risk people, including babies younger than 6 months.

A nasal-spray version of the vaccine, called FluMist, is available for people ages 2 to 49.

Influenza is most dangerous to people 65 and older, who account for 90 percent of 36,000 flu deaths nationwide each year. Between 80 and 100 children in the U.S., who primarily spread the flu, die from it each year after taking the virus home to their parents and grandparents.

The 2009 H1N1 strain or swine flu, is spreading rapidly among children and young adults, and deaths have been mostly among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

MSDH latest reports confirmed 723 cases of swine flu in the state with three deaths. The CDC reports 9,079 hospitalizations and 593 deaths nationwide.