There is such an abundance of information about the H1N1 flu. It seems everywhere you turn there is something about it. Keep in mind that it is important to keep informed about this rapidly changing situation.
Infection by the H1N1 virus is widespread across the United States, including Wisconsin. There is more flu activity for this time of year than normal. The Health Department is getting reports about student absences from local schools.
Fortunately, a vaccine for H1N1 has been developed and is becoming available in stages. The Health Department is following the CDC guidelines and has begun immunizing emergency medical service personnel and healthcare workers. School clinics are being tentatively scheduled for early November. Clinics for the general public will be scheduled for some time later in November.
Unfortunately, all the planning is dependent upon vaccine delivery which is very unpredictable at present. For example, not only have shipment dates been delayed, but the order received does not necessarily match the order that was placed. In other words, we get what we get when we get it and have to make the best of it!
We have been getting many questions about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine. The H1N1 vaccine is made the same way flu vaccine is made every year. The only thing that is different is that the viral particle recognized by the immune system comes from the swine fu virus rather than the seasonal flu virus. In fact, had the H1N1 flu surfaced earlier, it would have been included in this year's seasonal vaccine.
We have also heard that "November will be too late" to get the H1N1 vaccine. This is most definitely not true. Not everyone gets the flu at the same time and pandemic flu comes "in waves". Even if 5-10% of the population has been infected, that still leaves up to 95% susceptible. It is impossible to predict when the H1N1 flu will peak.
The good news is that the federal government is paying for your H1N1 flu shot and there is no cost to you if you get it through the Health Department. Please stay tuned as clinics will be scheduled as soon as vaccine is received.