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Over 95% of flu cases are H1N1

Schools, public wait on vaccine

by Larry S. Chowning

For those Middlesex County residents who have the flu, chances are greater than 95% that the flu is the H1N1 (swine flu), according to Dr. Thomas Irungu, the director of the Three Rivers Health District, which is headquartered at Cooks Corner.

Dr. Irungu said only a few seasonal flu cases have been documented, and probably amount to less than 5% of the total flu illnesses.

Dr. Irungu said on Tuesday the Health Department does not have enough H1N1 vaccine to make it available to the general public. The health department is presently giving H1N1 vaccines to pregnant women, young children, health care workers and first responders.

According to medical records, pregnant women have higher complications from the flu than others in the general population. This was brought out in similar flu epidemics of 1918, 1957 and 1968.

As of August 21, the latest date for which numbers are available, pregnant women accounted for 6 percent of the 484 confirmed deaths in the U.S. linked to swine flu.

There have been no deaths to date from the swine flu in Middlesex. 

The health department has “extensive plans” to do in-school H1N1 vaccinations of students once an adequate vaccine supply is available, said Dr. Irungu.

The bottom line is that there is not enough H1N1 vaccine available to start the in-school program, or offer the vaccine to the general public.

Dr. Irungu informed the board of supervisors last week that the Health Department plans to set up a clinic near old Rappahannock Elementary School at Cooks Corner to inoculate the general public when enough H1N1 vaccine is available.

He also stated that the planned in-school vaccinations to students will be done at no cost to the parents. Parental permission must be given before a child is inoculated.

Dr. Irungu said the World Health Organization has declared the swine flu outbreak a Worldwide Pandemic, and President Obama has declared a State of Emergency in the U.S.

He said swine flu cases are widespread in 46 of the country’s 50 states.

Visit http://www.Flu.gov for more information and what steps to take to protect yourself from the flu.

posted 10.28.2009

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