Health official: proceed with seasonal flu vaccine clinics

With all the talk about H1N1 flu vaccine, a state health official is reminding South Dakotans not to forget about the need for seasonal flu vaccine.

"Seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against H1N1 flu and the H1N1 vaccine will not protect against seasonal flu because they are different viruses," said Doneen Hollingsworth, secretary of health.

Seasonal flu vaccine supplies are already coming into South Dakota and the clinics for that vaccine should proceed in September and October as they would during any flu season. Vaccine administered in September or October will provide protection throughout the flu season, which typically peaks in February.

Those at high risk for complications from seasonal flu are encouraged to get their vaccine for seasonal flu now. Those high-risk groups include:

  • Children 6 months to 18 years of age,
  • Pregnant women,
  • People over age 50,
  • People with chronic medical conditions,
  • People living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, and
  • Health care workers.

H1N1 vaccine is expected to be available in mid-October, with more doses being shipped weekly thereafter. Federal health officials are working with manufacturers to make enough vaccine for every American who wants it; however, the vaccine will be available in limited quantities initially. As a result, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls for targeting the first doses to those groups at highest risk for H1N1 such as pregnant women and health care workers. People not in the risk groups are encouraged to wait for vaccination until more vaccine is available in late October and November.

In addition to vaccination, personal precautions should be taken to help stop the spread of influenza and other illnesses:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, not into your hands.
  • Stay home when you're sick – until 24 hours after symptoms are gone without fever-reducing medicine.

Find more information about seasonal and H1N1 flu at the department's Web site, http://doh.sd.gov, including links to federal health guidance on preparing for, preventing, and responding to an outbreak.

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