Today, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announces plans for H1N1 vaccination efforts this fall and encourages Rhode Islanders to get a seasonal flu vaccine now. Vaccination is the easiest and most effective way to protect against the flu.
“Right now, we are encouraging everyone aged six months and older to get a seasonal flu vaccination,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “Seasonal flu vaccine is available now at providers’ offices, public clinics and workplaces. Seasonal flu vaccination is especially important this year because of the H1N1 pandemic. Although the seasonal flu vaccine is unlikely to provide protection against H1N1 influenza, it will provide protection against seasonal flu, which is also expected to be circulating this fall and winter.”
HEALTH and its partners are preparing to embark on an aggressive, three-month H1N1 vaccination campaign. It is expected to begin in October and continue through December. As vaccine supply allows, our first priority for H1N1 vaccinations, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be children and pregnant women, healthcare workers and household contacts/caregivers for infants younger than 6 months of age. Current plans for the H1N1 vaccination by target population and vaccination venue include:
- Children, 6 months to 5 years of age at: Pediatric healthcare provider offices
- Children, grades K-12 at: School vaccination clinics
- Pregnant women at: Birthing hospitals, prenatal care provider offices
- Household contacts/caregivers of infants younger than 6 months at: Provider offices, public clinics
- Healthcare workers, first responders at: Hospital-based (Healthcare Service Region) clinics
- Young adults, age 19-24 years of age at: College/university clinics, public clinics
“Any provider who wants to give H1N1 vaccinations to their patients needs to register with the H1N1 Vaccination Program (http://pandemic.health.ri.gov/h1n1),” said Dr. Gifford. “It is especially important for any provider who treats chronically ill patients to enroll in the program so those who are at the highest risk for complications from H1N1 can be vaccinated.” HEALTH requests licensed medical volunteers (e.g. nurses, doctors, pharmacists, EMTs) to assist with H1N1 vaccination efforts. Any licensed medical professional who is interested in volunteering can register at www.riresponds.org.
The symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or runny nose. People are most likely to spread flu germs when they have a fever. Prevention measures that everyone can practice include: · Wash your hand frequently with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol hand gel. · Cough and sneeze into your elbow. · Anyone with influenza-like illness (ILI) stay home from work, school or daycare until they are fever-free for 24 hours, without the help of fever-reducing medicines like Tylenol · Do not touch your eyes or mouth after sneezing or coughing. · Do not share eating utensils, drinks or water bottles.
Every year, approximately 36,000 people in the country die from seasonal influenza and its complications. Seasonal flu typically affects people age 65 and older. This flu season, HEALTH anticipates that as many as 30% of the people in Rhode Island could get H1N1. Most people will experience mild illness; however, people with underlying medical conditions like heart and lung disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, diabetes or a weakened immune system can have more severe symptoms, be hospitalized or die.
For the most current information on H1N1, visit http://www.health.ri.gov or call 401-222-8022, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 :30 p.m.