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November 4, 2009 > Limited flu vaccines in the county

Limited flu vaccines in the county

Submitted By Joy Alexiou

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department received a shipment of 26,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine. The consignment is good news but represents a limited supply for Santa Clara County.

"We're relieved to have received this limited supply of the vaccine," said County of Santa Clara Board President Liz Kniss. "While it's a fraction of what we need, it'll enable us to begin distributing the vaccine so those most at risk can receive inoculations. However, this is a very small percentage of what Santa Clara County had been promised and we'll continue to apply pressure to receive the remainder so we can for our most vulnerable residents."

Given the limited supply and that most medical providers in Santa Clara County have not yet received shipments from the federal government, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department will immediately begin to redistribute vaccine to local medical providers. For the next week, these providers have been instructed to give the vaccine to people who are at highest risk for infection AND serious illness and complications from the H1N1 flu, or care for high-risk individuals who cannot receive vaccine:

* Pregnant women;
* Children 6 months to 2 years of age;
* Children and young people 2 to 18 years of age with medical conditions;
* People who live with or care for infants under the age of 6 months; and,
* Healthcare and emergency service workers who provide care to those listed above.

Starting November 7, the department will begin vaccination clinics for the following:

* Pregnant women;
* People who live with or provide care for infants under six months;
* Children and young adults between the ages of 6 months and 24 years;
* Adults between the ages of 25 and 64 years who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for flu-related complications; and,
* Healthcare and emergency medical services workers.

The first public clinic for those at highest risk will be held at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on November 7, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and will stay open during this period as long as supplies last.

Other clinic locations, dates and times will be arranged when more shipments of vaccine arrive. Continue to visit the Public Health Department's website for updates. When steady delivery of vaccine into the county begins, the Public Health Department will notify all public and private healthcare providers when to vaccinate the general public as well as high-risk groups.

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department shares the public's concern about the overall availability of the H1N1 vaccine but asks healthy adults to wait until vaccine becomes more readily available. Most healthy people who become sick with the H1N1 will recover without medical attention. People in a high risk group are at greater risk for serious illness and death. That is why early vaccination efforts are focused on giving them protection.

If someone who is at high risk for illness or complications from the H1N1 flu has flu symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately and begin treatment with antiviral medications. Anyone with severe symptoms of flu should contact their medical provider for advice. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has issued guidelines to the local medical community recommending immediate treatment with antiviral medications to anyone in a high risk group with flu-like illness. Flu symptoms can come on suddenly, so at the first sign of illness, those at high risk should contact their healthcare provider right away.

H1N1 flu symptoms typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and extreme tiredness. Many people who have been infected with the H1N1 virus, especially children, also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

Flu antiviral medications are prescription drugs (pills, liquid, or inhaler) that decrease the ability of flu viruses to reproduce. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antiviral medications should start within two days after becoming sick. Used this way, these medications can reduce the severity of flu symptoms and prevent serious flu complications.

For more information about the H1N1 flu and vaccination clinics offered by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, visit

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