11/10/09 — Two N.C. expectant moms die of H1N1

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Two N.C. expectant moms die of H1N1

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 10, 2009 1:46 PM

H1N1 is getting even more attention in the state today after the deaths of two pregnant women were announced Monday in North Carolina.

Wayne County officials have already announced a mass vaccination clinic scheduled for Saturday at the Health Department from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

In addition to expectant mothers, free H1N1 shots and H1N1 mist will be given to those considered high risk -- caretakers of infants younger than 6 months old, health care workers, children and adults with health conditions including asthma and diabetes, and anyone under the age of 25.

The deaths of the two pregnant women, attributed to H1N1 flu or similar symptoms late last month, prompted state health officials to expand coverage of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to any influenza-like illnesses.

James Roosen, Wayne County health director, said this morning that pregnant women need to be vaccinated against the H1N1 strain of flu.

"Pregnant women are at the top of the list in terms of our target groups," he said.

The effort was not prompted by the state's announcement, however.

"One thing that we have been doing in the last three weeks is vaccinating pregnant women who come through our clinics at the Health Department. That's one of our priorities," Roosen said. "We're trying to take an active role with reaching these high-risk groups."

And while the vaccination clinic will cater to the higher risk factions of the community, the health director said he does not plan to impose a limit on it.

"If somebody shows up and they're not in a high risk group, we're not going to turn them away because it's important to vaccinate everybody in this community. Everybody can possibly be a victim of H1N1 or any other illness," he said. "It's called 'herd immunity' -- the goal is the less people that can transmit the disease that are in our community, hopefully the safer we will all be."

No appointment is necessary for Saturday's clinic, but officials will use an alphabetized system to expedite wait time. Individuals are encouraged to report according to the following schedule, based upon last name: A-J from 7:30-10 a.m.; K-R from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and S-Z from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Handicapped or non-ambulatory individuals may access drive-up parking on the Simmons Street side of the Health Department, and have a family member or friend first register inside the building.

Other parking will be available on the Herman Street and Lionel Street sides of the county office building, and enter through the front or back entrance.

Through Sept. 26, 12 deaths have been attributed to laboratory-confirmed H1N1 virus. Since Sept. 27, the state says 32 North Carolinians have died from influenza-related viruses, including H1N1.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.