Published On: Tue, Oct 13th, 2009
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Flu Vaccines due to Hospital this Month

Submitted by Cherokee Indian Hospital

2009 H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. The 2009 H1N1 is a type of Influenza A virus.  Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by viruses. There are several varieties of flu. Currently, North Carolina has both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu cases.

Cherokee Indian Hospital reports that during the month of September, there were 31 documented cases of Influenza A.  To date, the hospital has only had two cases of H1N1 confirmed by the State Lab, but once it became apparent that the majority of the circulating Influenza A virus was H1N1, the N.C. Division of Public Health no longer recommended H1N1 testing unless needed for clinical management.

The Cherokee Indian Hospital will soon be receiving its first doses of the H1N1 vaccine.  There are two forms of the H1N1 vaccine. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that certain groups of the population receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine when it first becomes available. These target groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than six months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, persons between the ages of six months and 24 years old, and people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

One form of the H1N1 vaccine is in the form of a nasal mist and is a live, attenuated (weakened) virus.  This means that the vaccine is sprayed into the nose. 

Persons who can be given this nasal mist are:

 *          People who are from 2 years through 24 years of age,

*          People who are from 25-49 and live with or care for infants younger than 6 months of age

*          Or health care or emergency medical personnel.

 Persons who CAN NOT be given the nasal mist are:

 *          Children younger than 2

*          Adults 50 years and older

*          Pregnant women

*          Anyone with a weakened immune system,

*          Anyone with a long-term health problem such as heart disease, kidney or liver disease, lung disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia and other blood disorders

*          Children younger than 5 years with asthma or one or more episodes of wheezing during the past year,

*          Anyone with certain muscle or nerve disorders (such as cerebral palsy) that can lead to breathing or swallowing problems,

*          Anyone in close contact with a person with a severely weakened immune system (requiring care in a protected environment, such as a bone marrow transplant unit),

*          Children or adolescents on long-term aspirin treatment.

 Another form of the H1N1 vaccine is an inactivated vaccine injection (vaccine that has killed virus in it) and is given as an injection, like the regular annual flu shot. While certain groups should not get the nasal mist for example pregnant women, people with long-term health problems and children from 6 months to 2 years of age – it is important that they be vaccinated. They should get the H1N1 flu shot instead of the nasal mist.

 Cherokee Indian Hospital and Cherokee Health and Medical Division have been working together to vaccinate the community with seasonal flu vaccine for the past few months.

 The H1N1 vaccine (both the nasal flu mist and the injectable vaccine) is expected to be delivered to Cherokee Indian Hospital sometime in October. An announcement will be made to the public for the location of flu clinics and how to get the vaccine.

 Please speak with your primary care provider if you have any questions concerning the H1N1 vaccines.

 The flu is usually spread when infected people cough or sneeze.  Either type of flu can spread rapidly in a community unless people take precautions. Everyone can take some very basic actions to help stop the spread of flu. Wash your hands with soap and water. Cough into your elbow or sleeve or into a tissue, not your hands. Stay home if you are sick. Get a seasonal flu shot now, and get vaccinated against H1N1 when the vaccine becomes available. Everyone has a role in preventing the spread of flu.

 Flu attacks a person’s nose, throat, and lungs. Influenza usually comes on suddenly and may include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and/or body aches. Most people who get flu recover in a week or two, but some people develop life-threatening complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu. Every year, between 1,000 and 2,000 people die of seasonal influenza and pneumonia in North Carolina. It is still early in the 2009 H1N1 outbreak; most people who have been ill have recovered or are recovering. Although H1N1 so far has been compared to regular seasonal flu, some people have become severely ill and there have been some deaths. Now that the traditional flu season has begun, both H1N1 and seasonal flu strains are circulating in North Carolina. Either H1N1 or seasonal flu can be dangerous for a person with an underlying medical condition—such as asthma or diabetes—or if you’re pregnant. So far, H1N1 has been most contagious among children and young adults age six months to 24 years old.