In Nov. 5 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
Seventeen have died, hundreds sickened and schools are closing across the state because of the H1N1 virus, as this flu season has started months ahead of normal.
That comes as over 200,000 of the 300,000 inoculation doses that were allocated to Kentucky have been sent out to local health departments.
"We have limited amounts of vaccine and we are getting it out to the people as soon as possible," said Shirley Roberson with the Russell County Health Department.
She said they are expecting more anti-virus to come in and presently they are focusing on the schools. They had a clinic scheduled in the Clinton County School District, but Clinton Co. has canceled school Roberson said.
A clinic at Russell County Schools is expected soon. There have already been two clinics at the health department, but at present there isn't another clinic scheduled.
There are two strains of the flue, or influenza, that are in the population this year. So far this year over 99 percent of the virus found in Kentucky so far has been the H1N1, or swine flu, according to a recent state report.
The normal "flu season" doesn't begin until December, and though the health department has inoculations for the H1N1 available and more comeing the anti-virus for the seasonal flu is all gone.
"We got in the same number of doses for the seasonal flu that we did last year," Roberson said. "There was a lot more demand this year. People who have never gotten a shot before got one this year."
But the pressure they are seeing at present is for the H1N1 inoculations, and they aren't the only ones.
Calls to several doctors offices in the county found none have either anti-virus in stock, though they are getting requests.
"We've had about 10,000 calls," said a nurse at one doctor's office.
The calls to that office and others have, in the majority, been about the swine flu inoculations.
Aside from getting inoculated health professionals are strongly recommending good hygiene, especially hand washing as the best protection.
Washing regularly and thoroughly with soap and water is important because of this virus' stealth.
"The influenza virus appears to be contagious beginning one day before symptoms emerge and lasting at least seven days after symptoms appear." according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health's new report this week. "It is most contagious during the first five days."
Those looking for the anti-virus can call the local health department at 343-2181, and follow the prompts from the electronic system.
The Kentucky flu hotline number is 877-843-7727.