December 11, 2009 in City

There’s plenty of swine flu vaccine now

No limits in Spokane County, North Idaho on who can receive doses
By The Spokesman-Review
 

On the Web: Find a complete look at swine flu, including timely news updates, links, previous coverage and a downloadable graphic about prevention and treatment, at spokesman.com/sections/swineflu.

Swine flu numbers jump

ATLANTA – Swine flu has sickened about 50 million Americans and killed about 10,000, according to new estimates released by federal health officials Thursday.

That means about 1 in 6 Americans have had the illness, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The estimates are for the first seven months of the pandemic, from April through mid-November. The new numbers are a big jump from previous estimates, which said swine flu had sickened 22 million Americans and killed about 4,000 through mid-October.

The CDC also estimates that nearly 200,000 people were hospitalized through mid-November – about the same number normally hospitalized in an entire winter flu season.

While the elderly account for most of the hospitalizations and deaths from seasonal flu, the largest proportion of reported swine flu hospitalizations and deaths are in nonelderly adults, CDC officials said.

More than three-quarters of the deaths were people ages 18 to 64, according to the CDC.

Also on Thursday, the CDC released a study that found American Indians and Alaska Natives have died from swine flu at a rate four times greater than other Americans.

Associated Press

Swine flu vaccines will be available to everyone beginning Monday.

After weeks of carefully doling out vaccine to people at most risk of serious illness, the Spokane Regional Health District announced Thursday that ample supplies of the vaccines have arrived in Spokane County.

It’s the same across North Idaho, the Panhandle Health District announced.

The new shipments arrive at a time when the number of people needing hospitalization because of the flu has been falling.

More than 107,000 doses of the vaccine have been shipped to the county, said health officer Dr. Joel McCullough. People wanting the vaccine are encouraged to call their health care providers or local pharmacies. There may be a fee.

Although patient numbers have dropped, McCullough warned H1N1 influenza virus infections could surge again.

The virus is especially tough on children and people with underlying health conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that swine flu has killed 250 children across the nation this year, more than triple the number of annual child deaths attributable to the flu.

One infant from the Tri-Cities area died this fall at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center from swine flu.

There have been 67 people younger than 19 years old hospitalized with H1N1 in Spokane County. Of those cases, 51 were children ages 10 and younger, McCullough noted.

“We remain worried about the little ones, kids, who haven’t been vaccinated,” he said.

“This is a serious illness.”

No additional public vaccination clinics are planned at this time. People who are uninsured and can’t afford the fees charged by clinics and pharmacies can get the vaccines for free by calling the health district clinic for an appointment.


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