Kentucky Department for Public Health Provides Update on H1N1 Vaccine, Urges Patience
Two Additional H1N1-related Deaths Reported
Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) officials provided an update today on H1N1 (swine flu) activity in the state, including the reporting of two additional H1N1-related deaths.
The deaths involved a woman in her 80s from Knox County with significant underlying health issues who died in September, and a man in his 40s from the Kentucky State Reformatory in Oldham County who was being treated off-site. The state now has 10 recognized H1N1-associated deaths.
"It is always a tragedy when we lose any Kentuckian to illness," said DPH Commissioner William Hacker, M.D.. "We know that seven of the 10 individuals we have lost in Kentucky are in target groups for the H1N1 vaccine. People in these groups are at higher risk for complications from the swine flu and should get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as it is available in their community. While we don't yet have as much of the swine flu vaccine on hand as we would like, we know more will arrive in the coming weeks."
Kentucky has been allocated 177,400 doses of the swine flu vaccine so far, with more than 138,000 doses of that having shipped to health departments and health care providers in the state.
"Kentucky continues to experience widespread flu activity at the moment. I'd like to remind everyone that your mother's advice—washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home when sick—is very effective at preventing the spread of flu," said Dr. Hacker. "The flu vaccine is also one of the most effective tools we have against influenza, and while there are a few clinics already taking place in the state, we hope to begin immunizing more Kentuckians in the weeks ahead. We ask that people find out if they or their family members are in a target group for the H1N1 vaccine, and that we all let those higher-risk individuals get vaccinated first."
The state's allotment of vaccine so far has been about half nasal spray vaccine, which can only be taken by healthy individuals ages 2-49, with the rest in the form of the H1N1 flu shot vaccine. The target groups that health officials are recommending receive vaccine first are:
- pregnant women;
- people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months old;
- health care and emergency medical services workers;
- children and young adults 6 months to 24 years old, especially those with chronic health problems; and
- people 25 to 64 years old with chronic health problems.
People over the age of 65 appear to be at lower risk of catching the swine flu, and should receive the vaccine once those in the target groups have received it.
An audio file of today's telebriefing for the media is available for download in the media section of the http://healthalerts.ky.gov Web site. Kentuckians can always visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov for information on H1N1 and Kentucky, including updated information about H1N1 vaccine clinics, or follow KYHealthAlerts on Twitter. Kentucky's toll-free influenza hotline number is 1(877)843-7727, and operates from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.