With three confirmed cases in the Monett area, the H1N1 virus and its vaccine were a prime topic of discussion during the September meeting of the Local Emergency Planning District (LEPD) held on Thursday.
David Compton, director of the Barry County Office of Emergency Management, verified that three cases of swine flu had been confirmed in Monett. He said the much anticipated should to be available to specific priority groups by mid to late October.
According to Compton, those identified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to receive the first supply of vaccine will include:
* Healthcare and emergency service providers.
* Persons age 6 months to 24 years old.
* Persons age 24 to 64 with health conditions that are considered to be at high risk for getting the flu.
|* Women who are pregnant.|
* Caregivers for pregnant women and young children.
"If a person goes to the doctor with flu-like symptoms and tests positive for the Type A influenza, it will automatically be assumed that it is H1N1," said Compton. "The state health department is no longer testing to confirm the H1N1 virus, because the treatment is the same."
Compton said approximately 36,000 people in the United States die each year from flu-related complications.
"There is no way to estimate how many people will be impacted by the H1N1 virus during the upcoming flu season," said Compton.
"The best policy is prevention," Compton continued. "Good hand-washing protocols, sneezing into an elbow rather than your hand and staying at home if you are sick. Social isolation will be the key to help prevent the spread of H1N1."
According to Compton, some area businesses are adjusting attendance policies to allow employees who develop flu-like symptoms to remain at home for up to seven days without being penalized as an effort to limit the spread of the infection.
Anti-viral medications are currently in secured locations throughout both Barry and Lawrence counties.
"We expect to have enough vaccines for the targeted groups, and we have more anti-viral medications that will be available when the current supplies are depleted," said Compton.
Compton noted the single-dose vaccines have proven to be effective in clinical trials, creating the possibility of doubling the number of individuals who could receive the vaccination.
|In other business, the LEPD committee approved sending up to four people to the annual instructor's training, which will be held from Oct. 23 through Oct. 25 at the Lake of the Ozarks.||The next LEPD meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Monett Community Building.|