10/26/09 — Wayne health officials are fighting seasonal flu

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Wayne health officials are fighting seasonal flu

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 26, 2009 1:46 PM

More than 300 people showed up for Friday's seasonal flu clinic at the Health Department, while officials continue to wait for H1N1 vaccines to distribute to health care providers.

Wayne County Health Director James Roosen said a limited supply of seasonal flu vaccines is left, with the emphasis now on prioritizing who gets those and the H1N1 vaccines.

"With the H1N1, we have got our priority groups," he said. "The problem is both (vaccines) are in limited supply right now.

"We're going to focus on the high-risk groups, which for H1N1 are pregnant women, children and also health care workers and emergency responders and people who take care of infants, and also people who are chronically ill."

For the most part, the seasonal flu vaccine has been easier to acquire, and people should be able to do so either through the Health Depart-ment or private physicians, Roosen said.

With the national state of emergency, and the fact that H1N1 is a federally supplied vaccine, it will be provided free, the health director said.

"What we have done with the H1N1 vaccine (is) when we get it, we give it to the other physicians who need it," he said, among them pediatricians and those who manage long-term care facilities.

"We're receiving it. It's dribbling in. At the beginning of the year, we were asked by the federal government to reserve a number of doses for Wayne County."

To date, he estimated 20 area providers put in requests for H1N1 vaccines, along with an estimate of what each wanted to reserve.

"We asked for 7,500 at the Health Department, but there's no guarantee that we're going to get everything we asked for," Roosen said. "I think we got a small percent of that so far."

Public reaction has been mostly inquisitive at this point, he said.

"People are asking about where they can get the vaccine, that's the main question."

Roosen said his office is doing its best to allay fears and provide the best possible advice in the interim.

"The main thing is, if you're sick, don't go to work," he said. "If you're sick, take care of yourself and don't expose yourself to other people."

At present, another public flu clinic has not been announced. The Health Department will, however, do a seasonal flu clinic on Friday for a segment of students in Wayne County Public Schools.

"In partnership with the school system, we're planning on vaccinating middle school children against seasonal flu," Roosen said.

An estimated 3,500 doses have been secured for this purpose.