November 10, 2009

News Release

For Immediate Release

Flu Cases Decrease, Vaccine Supply Increases

More than 6,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine arrived in Greene County November 10th and another shipment of equal size is expected to arrive within days. In the last six weeks, more than 15,000 people have been vaccinated against H1N1 in Greene County, even as flu cases decline for the second week in a row.

“Certainly it is good news to see the cases dropping,” says director of health Kevin Gipson, “but this flu season is far from over. It is typical to see waves of flu throughout the season, and we expect we will see another increase in cases in the weeks ahead.”

Last week 140 cases of flu were reported, bringing the total number of flu cases to 963 since August 31, 2009. More than half of the cases continue to be in the 5 – 14 year old age group, and only nine were reported in senior adults.

“H1N1 has been a young person’s illness,” adds Gipson. “That’s why we are focusing on getting children vaccinated, through health care providers’ offices and though the school systems.”

Three school districts completed their H1N1 vaccination programs this week, and others continue as vaccine supply allows. Through the last reporting period (11/7/09) nearly 6,000 children age 5 – 18 had been vaccinated against H1N1.

“Since we are beginning week six of our vaccination program, we know that children under 10 years old who were vaccinated in the first two weeks are now eligible for their second dose of H1N1 vaccine,” says Gipson. “We encourage our vaccine providers to continue prioritizing first dose vaccinations until people in the high risk priority group have all been offered a vaccination.”

Although adverse reactions are not commonly expected with H1N1 vaccination, a reporting program is in place. Anyone who experiences an adverse reaction after receiving a vaccination is encouraged to contact their health care provider for assistance in filling out a report through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This passive surveillance system has been in place since 1991 and is a useful early warning public health system. Reports can be submitted voluntarily by anyone, and are investigated by the CDC.

The H1N1 and seasonal flu answer line continues to field calls Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm except during the lunch hour (noon – 1:00 pm). The public is encouraged to call 417-874-1228 to have their questions answered by a live operator.

Media contact: Jaci McReynolds, Public Information Administrator, (417) 874-1205 office  •  (417) 830-9511 cell

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Harold K. Bengsch Building

227 E. Chestnut Expwy. • Springfield, MO 65802
417-864-1658 • health.springfieldmo.gov