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H1N1 vaccine for toddlers now available at BRHD

November 18th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Kara Kawakami

LOGAN–H1N1 vaccinations are available to children at the Bear River Health Department (BRHD) as well as through school clinics.

On Nov. 17, the health department started vaccinating 6-month through 35-month-olds and will continue to do so until vaccines run out. The vaccines are manufactured specifically for this age group, said Jill Parker, BRHD’s public information officer.

“The science behind that is they come to us in half doses,” she said. “Children under the age of 35 months can receive the half dose, and children under the age of 6 months aren’t recommended to get the vaccine, it isn’t approved for them. That vaccine is only manufactured for those ages,”

The CDC has five target populations of who should get the H1N1 vaccination, Parker said. These are pregnant women, caregivers of infants younger than 6 months, people 6 months old to 24 years old, people aged 25-64 with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart conditions, and health care or emergency personnel.

“Within those five populations, the health department doesn’t prioritize one group over another. The goal of the health department instead, is that we are providing venues for all of those to receive the vaccine,” Parker said.

One of the largest populations at risk for H1N1 is school-aged children. While the H1N1 vaccine is not mandatory, “Much of our vaccine right now honestly is going to the school clinics,” Parker said.

“We have coordinated, and have been since this summer with all of our school districts in the Bear River Health District, Box Elder, Cache, Logan, and Rich, to be able to provide clinics within the schools,” Parker said. “Hopefully it helps parents so that they don’t have to bring them into clinics. It helps to vaccinate a very large portion of the at-risk population.”

The overall number of vaccines that the CDC anticipated BRHD would receive was between 70,000 and 80,000 doses, Parker said. Only a small fraction of that number has been delivered at this point. The number of people vaccinated at BRHD with the H1N1 vaccine is not yet updated, but is at least 4,800 people, she said.

H1N1 cases are measured by influenza-like illness, Parker said. “The only time a person gets a lab-confirmed test that they absolutely positively have H1N1 is if they are hospitalized,” she said.

“In terms of H1N1, there was a news release that went out earlier this week from Salt Lake Valley that said they were starting to see a decrease in H1N1, but actually we don’t reflect that, we’re not seeing a decrease in our cases yet,” she said.

To protect against the flu, Parker said to do what has been already advised: Washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing, and staying at home when sick.

For more information on vaccination availability, visit http://www.brhd.org/.

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