H1N1 vaccine available on priority basis

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RBC I Locally, the H1N1 vaccine will be available next week.
But that doesn’t mean just anyone can get the shot, at least not at first.
Priority will be given to groups more susceptible to contracting the flu, including pregnant women, households that have children under the age of 6 months, who aren’t old enough to be immunized, and health-care workers.
“We will set up clinics (for administering the H1N1 vaccine), or people can call and make an appointment,” said Kim Long, public health director for Rio Blanco County.
Long said there are at least three confirmed cases of H1NI in the county, and numerous other cases of Type A influenza.
“And lots of them are probably H1N1, probably 90 percent, but we can’t test all of them,” Long said.
In those cases, Long recommended self-care, like with any other flu, including staying at home and getting plenty of rest. If someone’s condition worsens, they should see a health-care provider immediately, Long added.
As far as precautions people can take to avoid contracting the flu, Long said, “Hand washing is still the best way to prevent it.”
A major difference between H1N1 and other types of flu is “it is hitting the young and the healthy, which is what’s strange,” Long said. “People over 60 don’t seem to be getting H1N1 as much, and when they do, they don’t seem to get as ill. For whatever reason, that age group seems to have some protective factors.”
In September, a 7-year-old girl from Rifle died, reportedly of the H1N1 virus. There have been six reported deaths in Colorado due to H1N1.
In Meeker, School Superintendent Doug Pfau, said, “We have had higher-than-normal (school absences), but not what other (districts) have seen. There was a flu shot clinic (Monday) and we were hoping that a lot of kids and staff would go get the flu shot.”
For the next couple of months, the county expects to receive 100 to 300 doses of the H1N1 vaccine per week, which will be available in both Rangely and Meeker.
“Anybody who wants one will get one,” Long said, adding Rangely District Hospital will be given some of the county’s allotment. “As we get in (more doses), we’ll add a new priority group.”
Margie Joy of Pioneers Medical Center said the Meeker hospital should also have the H1N1-specific vaccine available, starting sometime next week. She encouraged people to also be vaccinated for the seasonal flu.
“The thing we can’t stress enough is to get your seasonal flu shot,” Joy said. “That’s really important. Even people who usually don’t get ’em, need ’em this year.”
Joy added, “I think parents are doing a very good job of being cautious this year, which is good, keeping their kids out of school when they have (the flu). We need to be diligent. I want to encourage people to take the preventative steps, to do the basic things to keep your immune system strong.”