Health Department Confirms More Swine Flu Deaths

Officials Say At-Risk Populations Need to Check with Private Providers if Symptomatic

(Little Rock) —The number of confirmed deaths in Arkansas from the H1N1 flu has now risen to 20, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). Additional vaccine supplies for protection against H1N1 flu are arriving in the state, and more is on the way.

People in all of the higher risk groups (including pregnant women, people caring for infants under 6 months, health-care and EMS personnel, people 6 months – 24 years and people 25-64 with underlying medical conditions) can begin to check with their providers to get protection from the H1N1 flu.  Over 900 facilities in the state have expressed an interest in being able to distribute H1N1 vaccine, and vaccine is currently being shipped to some of those providers depending upon supply.

Additionally, James Phillips, M.D., Infectious Disease Branch Director at ADH, said that people with chronic underlying conditions should contact their physician as soon as possible if they develop flu-like symptoms consisting of fever over 100 degrees, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

These include:

·         Children younger than 5 years of age (the risk for complications from flu is greatest for children younger than 2 years old)
·         All pregnant women up to 2 weeks postpartum
·         People of any age with chronic medical conditions such as:
Asthma, reactive airway disease
Any chronic lung disease
Chronic heart problems (except hypertension)
Chronic kidney problems, especially if on dialysis
Liver problems
Neurological/neuromuscular problems (such as disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve)
Muscular problems (cerebral palsy, epilepsy/seizure disorders, stroke, intellectual disability/mental retardation )
Muscular dystrophy
Spinal cord injury
Blood problems such as sickle cell anemia, leukemia
Metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
·         People with weakened immune systems such as those undergoing chemotherapy or those on immune suppressing drugs, people  who have HIV
·         People under 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy

Phillips said that plans are being made for the second round of mass vaccination clinics to offer free H1N1 vaccine to high risk groups after the Thanksgiving holidays, and a listing of those clinics will be posted at .  Arkansans are encouraged to keep checking the website for listings.

While more than half of the scheduled school clinics have already occurred, there are still school clinics planned in many locations around the state through December where children K-12, pregnant women, and siblings of school-aged children can get both H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine. Parents of school-aged children should check the health department website or local school district offices for details.

Children less than 10 years of age need a second dose of H1N1 vaccine no earlier than four weeks following the first dose. Children less than 9 years of age who have never received flu shots before this year will also need a second dose of seasonal vaccine at that time as well. Most school districts are not planning to hold booster dose clinics for those younger children, so parents need to look at other options for the second doses for their children.

“We know that parents are concerned now about the second doses, or booster doses, that their children need to get at about four weeks following the first dose they received,” Phillips said. ”We want parents to know that their children do have some immunity from their first dose, and in the coming weeks, booster doses may be available at pediatricians’ offices, mass flu clinics, or through other private providers.  Parents are encouraged to check these various outlets.”

For more information on the flu or for clinic locations, visit our website at