January 12, 2010
Health officials make renewed push on swine flu vaccine
And you thought swine flu was so 2009.
Well, it's not over. And public health officials are ramping up their efforts to get everyone a vaccine, warning that while things may be quiet now, a third wave of infections is quite possible. President Obama even ordered Jan. 11 through 16 as National Influenza Vaccination Week, devoted to urging Americans to roll up their sleeves!
In Maryland, state officials are seeking to highlight the availability of vaccine to prevent both H1N1 and seasonal flu, said Greg K. Reed, runs Maryland's Center for Immunization on behalf of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reed said most counties are likely going to be augmenting the clinic offerings for both vaccines. And while the number of providers requesting more H1N1 vaccine from the state, as well as the quantities they are requesting, has declined, the vaccine is now plentiful. He said the state is providing the vaccine to retail outlets and urgent care facilities, as well as public clinics and those family doctors and pediatricians who still want to provide H1N1 vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccine is purchased privately.
Those here locally who are seeking the H1N1 vaccine can call 211 or log onto flu.maryland.gov to find a location. Reed says adults will have the easiest
time. For children, pharmacists are now able to give vaccinations to those as young as 14 under an emergency order from the governor. Those under 10 need two
vaccinations, and parents will need to find a doctor or nurse to administer their children's vaccinations.
We need to remind people that the flu can be a very serious thing," said Reed. "People still need to think about getting vaccinated for H1N1 and seasonal flu. January and February are peak months for seasonal flu."
As demand decreases, governments are looking for ways to cut their vaccine orders.
In addition, as infections fall, some local hospitals have lifted their visitor restrictions imposed last year. At St. Joseph Medical Center, children without flu symptoms can now visit their parents in the hospital -- that includes the children of new and expectant mothers on the maternity unit, a policy that ignited an uproar last fall. There are a few caveats. Read the full policy here. Harbor Hospital also lifted its restrictions recently.