With sickness and hospitalizations from pandemic H1N1 influenza on the rise in Georgia, Southwest Health District is urging parents to make sure young children have received their second dose of vaccine and that family members who have not yet gotten an H1N1 vaccination do so now.
“Georgia is one of a handful of states experiencing regional influenza activity,” said Southwest Health District Deputy Director Brenda Greene. “This is worrisome for several reasons. First, influenza activity typically winds down at this time of year instead of having an uptick like the one we are seeing.
“Second, we are concerned that a significant number of Georgia residents – including people within our 14-county health district – haven’t gotten the H1N1 vaccine yet. Finally, we suspect there are many children between the ages of 6 months and 9 years old who got the first dose of H1N1 vaccine but who still need the second one for full protection. Spring break could offer H1N1 another opportunity to spread among this vulnerable population.”
More than 1,000 hospitalizations and over 70 deaths have occurred from influenza-like illness in Georgia since H1N1 first surged in April 2009.
“There is no out-of-pocket expense for H1N1 vaccine, our county health departments still have an ample supply and it is definitely not too late to get vaccinated,” Greene said. “Vaccination remains the best protection for you and your loved ones.”
Greene recommended vaccinations for the following high-risk groups:
• Children between 6 months and 9 years old
• Pregnant women
• People who live with or care for infants younger than 6 months
• Anyone between 6 months and 24 years old
• Older adults and anyone with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk of flu-related complications
More information is available by calling local county health departments or by going online to www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org or www.flu.gov.
written by Carolyn Maschke