Friday, October 16, 2009

H1N1 virus on the rise in Idaho

Date for local vaccine arrival unknown


Though the first shipment of vaccine to protect against H1N1 flu arrived in south-central Idaho last week, it will not be available for the public in Blaine County for at least a few weeks.

"We're still in the planning stages," said Amy Leirman, South Central Public Health District public information officer. "It's going to take a little longer than we anticipated."

She said the district is now organizing vaccinations at Blaine County schools and will have a better idea of a start date for public vaccinations in about two weeks.

A weekly report on the H1N1 virus released Wednesday by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare states that influenza-like illnesses are widespread throughout the state. The report also stated that H1N1 infections have contributed to the deaths of four Idahoans, all of whom had underlying health conditions.

The report coincides with a national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting widespread activity in most states.

The Department of Health and Welfare said only a small portion of people infected with influenza have been tested and received laboratory confirmation. The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories is only testing people who are hospitalized or at high risk for flu complications, though private labs are submitting results for positive cases. The department stated that lab-confirmed reports are an indicator of flu activity, but portray only a fraction of total infections.

Keeping that in mind, the overall number of lab-confirmed infections continues to increase, along with the number of people hospitalized for H1N1 infections. During the weeklong period ending Wednesday, 100 lab-confirmed infections were reported, with 27 hospitalizations.

As of Wednesday, Idaho has been allocated a total of 58,000 doses of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine. Initial shipments are being distributed directly to full-service hospitals, community health centers and local public health districts. Idaho's allotment is being distributed statewide on a population basis.

For current information, people should check with the health district's Web site,, or call their toll-free hotline at (866) 450-3594.

People with flu symptoms are urged to help protect other people by going home and staying home until fever subsides for at least 24 hours.

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