On December 14, the federal Department of Health Services (DHS) announced that public health departments and health care providers such as Fort HealthCare could start vaccinating members of the general public. However, DHS has instructed all health care providers to continue efforts to reach out to and vaccinate those in the CDC target groups. The CDC’s target group includes:
• Pregnant women
• Persons who live with or provide care for infants age 6 months or younger (examples: parents, siblings, daycare providers)
• Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
• All people from 6 months through 24 years of age (not intended for those less than six months of age)
• Persons 25-64 years of age with conditions associated with higher risk of complications from influenza
Fort HealthCare clinics now have sufficient supply of the H1N1 vaccine on hand to provide vaccinations to all individuals seeking protection from the illness. Patients are encouraged to call the office of their primary care physician to schedule appointments. Alternatively, people may call 2-1-1 to find an H1N1 or seasonal influenza vaccine clinic nearest them. A “clinic finder” is also available online at http://pandemic.wisconsin.gov or www.wisconsinfluclinic.info. Additional information is available at www.FortHealthCare.com/flu.
H1N1 activity has declined in all five of Wisconsin’s public health regions. However, another wave of H1N1 cases could occur and now is an optimal time for individuals to get vaccinated.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports H1N1 influenza activity continues to decline with the number of states now reporting widespread flu activity down from 25 to 14. Visits to doctors for influenza-like illness and flu-associated hospitalizations also declined from the previous week.
People are encouraged to follow good hygiene precautions such as hand washing, covering their cough/sneeze with their sleeve or a tissue, and staying home when ill. Call your health care provider first to determine if you should be seen by your local physician or if you should go to the ER/urgent care for treatment.
Since September 1, 2009, there have been 854 hospitalizations due to H1N1 virus infection in Wisconsin. H1N1-related deaths total to 47 statewide since cases began occurring in April.