September 04, 2009 04:26 pm
By Jeff Waters, Democrat Reporter
The Suwannee County Health Department will commence a mass vaccination for the H1N1 (swine flu) in the coming weeks, Pamela Blackmon, administrator for the Suwannee County Health Department, said Friday.
Blackmon said the department will be ready for vaccinations when it becomes available, which should be by the end of October.
Blackmon said the department has been preparing local governments, the school system and other agencies through several meetings since June for the vaccination.
"I think that preparations are going very well," said Blackmon. " We have been working with community partners as well as the school system and local governments to prepare for a mass H1N1 vaccination campaign. When the vaccine is ready, we will be ready."
Suwannee County has five confirmed cases of the virus. Two were confirmed Friday, with three in July.
Vaccinations will begin with five priority groups, said Blackmon.
- Pregnant women
- First responders and health care providers
- Care givers of infants less than six months of age
- Children ages six months to 24 months
- People 25 to 64 years of age who have a chronic medical condition.
Blackmon said those not in the priority groups will be able to receive vaccination after all those in the group have received theirs, and as vaccine becomes available.
Blackmon said there will be several "points of dispersement" where people can receive the vaccine at certain times through a 12-week campaign. Those p.o.d.s will be released at a later date when they are confirmed. Shots will also be available at all area schools on a consent basis.
Blackmon said those with flulike symptoms should stay home and away from others.
"Sometimes people try to go to work and tough it out when they are sick, but this isn't the time to try to be tough," said Blackmon. "If you have H1N1 symptoms, just go home."
City Administrator Bob Farley said thanks to the health department, City Hall and its employees are well versed on the symptoms and are able to help fight the spread of the virus.
"The city is very prepared," said Farley. "Based on the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the health department, the city is very prepared. We have taken steps to inform all employees of the exposure of the virus."
Farley said the city uses hand sanitizers and air borne sanitizing equipment.
The symptoms of H1N1 are:
- Fever over 100 degrees
- Sore throat
- Body aches
About 25 percent of people that have been sick with the virus also experience vomiting and diarrhea. Some people with this virus will
not have all of these symptoms, but may only have fever and cough or fever and sore throat.
"If you are at high risk for influenza complications and develop these symptoms, please contact your health care provider as soon as possible and follow (their) directions," said Blackmon.
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