December 01, 2009

News Release

For Immediate Release

H1N1 Vaccinations Focused on High Risk Individuals

The health department continues its focus on vaccinating people at highest risk for developing H1N1 and its complications as thousands more doses of vaccine arrive in the county. A shipment of 7,700 doses of H1N1 vaccine arrived Tuesday morning and another 5,500 doses are expected to arrive Wednesday.

“It is difficult to predict when we will complete vaccinations among the initial high risk group established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” says director of health Kevin Gipson. “Already we’ve given more than 35,000 vaccinations, but there are still people at high risk on waiting lists. It’s important that we stay focused on vaccinating people most at risk for developing severe illness or complications from H1N1.”

The high risk priority group includes pregnant women, children 6 months old through adults 24 years old, adults 25 to 64 with chronic medical conditions, health care workers, first responders, and household contacts and caregivers of infants under 6 months old.

“Flu cases were down again last week, with only eight cases reported,” says Gipson. “That is certainly good news. Vaccination is the gold standard of protection. Every person we are able to vaccinate better protects our community as a whole against additional waves of flu that may come in the next few months.”

The health department has received more than 1,000 reports of laboratory confirmed flu cases in Greene County since August 31. Compare that to the same time frame in previous years.

“The majority of flu cases we’ve seen so far this season have been in children,” adds Gipson. “That’s why it is so vital that we continue to work with our partners, especially health care providers and school districts, to safely and efficiently vaccinate our children.”

Seasonal flu vaccine is now available for children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years old. Parents can bring children to walk-in clinics held Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm at the Westside Public Health Center, located at 660 S. Scenic in Springfield. Seasonal FluMist (nasal spray) is also available based on eligibility.

The H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Answer Line is being staffed with live operators ready to answer public questions. Call 417-874-1228 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (closed noon to 1:00 pm).

The health department has added several people to its volunteer cadre, Community Heroes. A new volunteer outreach effort launches this week in churches. Staff will partner with faith-based organizations to create a network of volunteers able to be activated quickly in the event of a public health emergency. Participating organizations will receive recognition, and volunteers will receive a name badge for easy recognition by the public. For more information about this initiative, or to join Community Heroes, call 417-874-1297 or email volunteerhealth@springfieldmo.gov. Additional information can also be found at www.beacommunityhero.com.

New information has been added to www.FightTheFluMO.com, including a page for dentists, materials in Spanish and links to information in American Sign Language. Information is also available in Spanish on the health department’s automated information line at 417-864-1166.

Media contact:
Jaci McReynolds
Public Information Administrator
Springfield-Greene County Health Department
227 E Chestnut Expressway
Springfield, MO  65802
(417) 874-1205 office
(417) 830-9511 cell
jmcreynolds@springfieldmo.gov

Note: Updated charts, graphs and stat sheet can be found online at www.springfieldmo.gov/health/pressBriefings.html.

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Harold K. Bengsch Building

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