H1N1 vaccinations scheduledPublished 9:39am Wednesday, October 21, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Area health officials are preparing for their first round of H1N1 vaccinations – this on the heels of a new report by the Center for Disease Control that shows the illness seems to be plaguing a younger population – with 54 percent of laboratory confirmed cases coming from those under the age of 24.
The Berrien County Health Department announced this week a schedule for H1N1 vaccinations beginning Oct. 24.
“Previously, tentative schedule indicated that these clinics were open to the general public,” the organization said on its Web site. “The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that the first vaccine clinics be targeted to those at highest risk of flu complications.”
The initial groups to be giving first priority for the vaccine include: pregnant women; children and young adults (6 months to 24 years); individuals who live with or care for infants under 6 months; health care workers with direct patient contact; and adults 25-64 years old with underlying medical conditions.
Schools throughout the southwest Michigan area have reported a high number of absences over the last few weeks.
St. Joseph Public Schools shut down due to an increase in absence Tuesday morning.
The school announced on its Web site Tuesday morning: “The number of absences due to the flu at Lincoln Elementary and Upton Middle School remained high on Tuesday, Oct. 20, therefore those buildings will be closed for the remainder of the week. The school administration will be monitoring all other buildings to determine if they will remain in session on a day to day basis.”
Though the confirmed cases of H1N1 as shown in the CDC report are alarming, the number of deaths from reported cases of H1N1 are significantly less with just 24 percent of deaths of those ages 24 and under – 64 percent of deaths occurring in those between ages 25 and 64.
Everyone from health experts to school officials have reiterated the importance of using hand sanitizers and antibacterials to kill germs before they have a chance to spread, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing and to stay home when feeling ill.
But there are warning signs when it comes to both seasonal and H1N1 flu to keep in mind. The health department identifies those warning signs in children as: fast breathing or trouble breathing; bluish skin color; not drinking enough fluids; not waking up or interacting; being irritable to the point where the child doesn’t want to be held; flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough; and fever is accompanied by a rash.
Warning signs for adults were identified as well, including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting.
The Berrien County Health Department stated a consent form for the vaccine would be posted online at their Web site at www.bchdmi.org.
For more information visit www.flu.gov.
The Berrien County Health Department will be administering H1N1 vaccinations at the following locations:
-Saturday, Oct. 24: Western Michigan University Building at the Lake Michigan College Campus in Benton Harbor from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
-Tuesday, Oct. 27: New Buffalo High School, New Buffalo from 3 to 7 p.m.
-Thursday, Oct. 29: St. Joseph Catholic School, Watervliet from 3 to 7 p.m.
-Sunday, Nov. 1: Andrews University Gym, Berrien Springs from noon to 4 p.m.
-Monday, Nov. 2: First Church of God, St. Joseph from 3 to 7 p.m.
-Friday, Nov. 6: Niles High School from 3 to 7 p.m.