CDC H1N1 Update
From NPT inbox:
October 21, 2009
Department of Public Health
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tammy Fonce¬-Olivas, (915) 621-6754 office, (915) 873-1974 cell
El Paso, Texas – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there has been widespread influenza activity in 41 states including Texas and New Mexico, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health reported today.
Overall in the United States, doctors’ visits for influenza-like illness have continued to increase and are higher than the levels expected for this time of year. The same trend is observed in El Paso and we are experiencing a high volume of visits to local emergency rooms and physicians. The Department of Public Health has also noted an increase in the sales of over-the-counter medication to treat flu-like symptoms.
The timing, spread and severity of 2009 H1N1 virus in addition to the regular seasonal influenza viruses remain uncertain. As we move deeper into the flu season we expect higher levels of activity to be reported.
Our Department of Public Health Laboratory has continued to receive an increased number of samples for H1N1 testing and the number of confirmed cases is increasing. The samples tested at the Department of Public Health’s Laboratory are for epidemiological (disease investigation) purposes only and we are assuming that the total number of H1N1 patients is by far higher.
We are in constant communication with all of our local schools and they are voluntarily reporting all influenza-like illness related absences. They have not reached our level for implementing further public health measures. There are no plans to offer vaccines at schools, rather individuals should contact their respective medical providers or visit a Department of Public Health Immunization Clinic when enough vaccine is available.
We are currently recommending a three step approach to fight and contain the spread of the 2009 H1N1 Flu throughout our community: stay home when sick and observe basic hygiene; immunization against this virus and against seasonal influenza; and prompt treatment and use of antiviral medications for those patients that match CDC criteria.
As of October 14th 2009 across the United States there have been 11.4 million doses allocated, 7.9 million doses ordered and 5.8 have been shipped of the 2009 H1N1 Flu vaccine. Locally, about 600,000 doses of the vaccine have been ordered by 244 private medical providers throughout El Paso County.
At the Department of Public Health we have received 200 doses of the nasal mist and 200 doses of the H1N1 shots, not yet enough to offer to the public in a customer-friendly manner. We have ordered a total of 14,000 doses.
As soon as the Department of Public Health has a sizable supply of 2009 H1N1 Flu vaccines to conduct an efficient vaccination clinic, we will notify the public via the media outlets. If demand is high, we may additionally open mass vaccination clinics in the community. We encourage the public to contact their primary health care provider and inquire about the availability of the vaccine.
The vaccine is being shipped from the manufacturers, to distribution centers and then shipped to thousands of localities across the country in small allocations initially. More doses are expected for shipment each week and we ask that those who want to receive the vaccine to be patient as this program expands and more vaccine doses become available.
Because initial supplies are limited, we will follow the federal government’s recommendation to target five population groups designated as high risk for developing complications arising from the 2009 H1N1 Flu. Once sufficient amounts of these high risk groups have had the opportunity to receive the vaccine, the state of Texas will recommend that the general public begin receiving the vaccine. The five target populations identified by the CDC who will initially receive the vaccine will be:
• Pregnant women
• Persons who live with or provide care for infants younger than 6 months.
• Healthcare workers and emergency medical services personnel.
• Children and young adults aged 6 months to 24 years, and persons aged 25 through 64 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for complications.
• Children receiving long term Aspirin Therapy.
It is our mission to serve all citizens of our community with special emphasis to those who are uninsured or underinsured and we encourage those with a medical provider to make contact and inquire about vaccine availability at their medical office.