H1N1 vaccine available soon

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Allen County Commissioner Gary McIntosh braces himself for a flu shot about to be given by Wendy Froggatte, Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department nurse. Traditional flu vaccine is available and H1N1 vaccine will be by mid-October, Froggatte told commissioners.

Vaccine for the H1N1 virus, commonly called swine flu, will be available by mid-October in quantities substantial enough to inoculate all county residents, Allen County commissioners were told Tuesday morning.
Wendy Froggatte, Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department nurse, said no cases of H1N1 officially had surfaced in Allen County, but “that doesn’t mean it’s not here. The only time a person is (definitively) tested is when they’re in the hospital.” Symptoms are similar enough to diagnose the new virus as “just the plain old flu,” she said, without specific testing.
Five cases of H1N1 have been recorded in Neosho County.
When the swine flu vaccine arrives, educators, health care professionals, caregivers at all levels — including those who operate daycare centers — and babies and toddlers will be inoculated first. Older children and adults will follow, with the elderly last. The H1N1 vaccine will be dispensed for free through the health department.
Froggatte said people 65 and older should not rush to be vaccinated because prior exposure to various flu strains likely has built immunity within them. But, “it wouldn’t hurt to take the H1N1 shots,” she said, noting two shots within a 21-day period were required.
Froggatte recommended older Allen Countians take regular flu shots, and pneumonia shots, if they had not been inoculated previously. Both vaccines are available at the Health Center, 221 S. Jefferson Ave. and are free to Medicare recipients.

FROGGATTE said the best way to prevent the rapid spread of H1N1, or any other type of flu, was for people to have a common sense approach.
“Everyone should wash their hands frequently, cover their faces when they sneeze or cough and say home when they are ill,” she said. “We’re talking about a communicable disease and the best way to keep it from becoming a severe problem is to minimize exposure.”
Regular flu typically kills more than 40,000 residents in the United States each year.