H1N1 Vaccine Arriving in Arkansas

(LITTLE ROCK) — Dr. James Phillips, branch chief, infectious disease, Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), announced today that the first doses of the new H1N1 influenza A (Swine Flu) vaccine are arriving in Arkansas.  “We are receiving 17,000 doses of H1N1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               nasal flu mist vaccine.  We will be working to make sure the high priority groups that are most at risk for complications for H1N1 flu receive the vaccine first. Children ages 6 months to 24 years are one of the priority groups,” Phillips said.
The fastest, most efficient way to vaccinate the most children will be through the upcoming statewide school flu clinics and the initial vaccine supply will be for the first of these clinics. School clinics will be going on for the next several months.  To find out when and where the vaccine will be available, Arkansans are encouraged to go to the ADH website at www.healthyarkansas.com  for details.

As Arkansas gets more H1N1 vaccine, those doses will be given to other priority groups first.  These include pregnant women, health care workers and emergency medical responders, people caring for infants under 6 months of age, and people ages 25-64 years with underlying health conditions (like asthma, diabetes).  Pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions cannot receive the nasal flu mist.  Phillips said, “Initially, the doses of vaccine we receive will be in the nasal flu mist form but the department expects to receive doses in the ‘shot’ form by mid-October.”
As soon as supplies permit, the ADH will be supplying vaccine to the other providers that have registered to administer doses of the new H1N1 vaccine in the state. ADH will also be giving seasonal flu shots and H1N1 shots (if supplies permit) at the statewide Mass Flu clinics on October 29, 30, 31.  The ADH is encouraging Arkansans to check with local providers to find out if they registered to be an H1N1 vaccine provider and if they have received their supplies before making a trip to get vaccine.

Dr. Phillips said, “We are asking people to be patient as the supplies begin to build up. We are expecting to get more supplies of vaccine over the next few weeks, and there will be eventually be enough for everyone who wants it to get H1N1 flu vaccine.”
In the meantime, it is important for Arkansans to be aware of the symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus.  They are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever over 100 degrees, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people. Arkansans can take these everyday actions to stay healthy:
·         Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
·         Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
·         Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
·         Stay home if you get sick and call your physician for advice on what to do. The ADH recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
For more information on 2009 H1N1 flu (Swine Flu) and seasonal flu, click on www.healthyarkansas.com or www.flu.gov.