Plenty of flu shots to go around in Summit County |

Plenty of flu shots to go around in Summit County

CAITLIN ROWsummit daily news

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of Health for Kansas Department of Health and Environment talks about the swine flu vaccine availability during a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009 in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

SUMMIT COUNTY -Though the Summit County Public Health Department and many private-practice doctors in the county have run out of seasonal flu vaccines, there’s still plenty left in the community.”There isn’t a shortage,” said Michelle Wilson, the community nursing manager at the Summit County Public Health Department. She said that as of last week there was still 1,700 doses of seasonal flu vaccine available locally.According to Wilson, private providers haven’t received a full shipment of seasonal flu vaccine yet because vaccine manufacturers are working to produce swine flu vaccines at the same time.”None of us received a full shipment,” Wilson said. “Normally Public Health gets 1,200 to 1,500 doses, and we’ve gotten about 900 so far. So we’re missing about 400 to 500 (doses). It’s coming. I called the company and they’re planning on shipping it. … Doctor’s offices are out of seasonal flu (vaccine), but we’re all getting more.”Even so, community pharmacies still have plenty of seasonal flu vaccines to go around.”Anyone who wants one could get one, except pharmacists don’t typically vaccinate small children,” Wilson said. Parents with small children should call ahead to check on pharmacy policies.

Seasonal flu tends to be tough on the very young and the very old. Though Wilson said H1N1 (swine) flu isn’t more severe than other stains of flu, its effects appear to be more severe on a larger cross-section of the population, like school-aged children and young adults. “Everyone gets the flu, but there’s certain people that might be at risk of having complications from the flu,” Wilson said. “You just never know if you’re going to have a mild case or if you’re going to have complications. That’s why getting a vaccine is a good idea.”According to the Summit School District, 7.6 percent of students were out on Tuesday, with 2.5 percent of those students experiencing flu-like symptoms. This is down from Monday, where 9.5 percent of students were out due to illness, 3.2 percent of them experiencing flu-like symptoms.Wilson stressed flu awareness and good hygiene as preventative measures.”Just take precautions everywhere you go,” Wilson said. “Don’t touch your hands to your face. You need to wash your hands and throw away used tissue. … It’s not just the school, it’s everywhere. It’s in the whole community, whereever people come together.”

Though swine flu vaccines aren’t yet available, Wilson urges people to get an H1N1 vaccine if they’re eligible. Some parts of the country may be getting H1N1 vaccines as early as next week.”It’s a new virus, and it’s acting right now like a typical influenza virus,” Wilson said. “This is a rapidly evolving situation, so people need to keep reading the paper and listening to the radio.” To manage the flu surge locally, the Summit County Community Care Clinic in Frisco instituted a long-term flu plan, starting Sept. 14.”We have not had to turn any flu patients away,” said Summit County Community Care Clinic executive director Sarah Vaine, noting that the clinic changed its eligibility and enrollment process so people could be treated with flu-like symptoms on the same day. In addition to same-day treatment for flu-like symptoms, Vaine said every patient receives verbal and written information in English and Spanish on how to care for themselves when they’re ill and when to seek emergency attention.