Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sat, Oct. 31

Navajo Division of Health influenza, H1N1 update

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The Navajo Division of Health, area school districts, Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS) and surrounding states are working together to provide updates on the seasonal flu and H1N1 (swine) flu. Vaccine manufacturers are also working with registered sites (hospitals) to make sure vaccines are distributed as ordered, although in limited supply; priority groups are receiving the seasonal flu and the H1N1 vaccines.

Updates will be provided as more vaccines become available.

Weekly meetings and telephone conferences keep health officials up to date on statewide and local activities, and Navajo Division of Health has a task force working on promotional materials and enhancing public education to continue the fight to reduce virus transmission.

Navajo Nation Public Health Emergency Coordinator Dave Nez reports that the H1N1 vaccines are coming to Navajo Nation registered sites in small amounts.

Nez attributes the timely delivery of vaccines to President Obama's Emergency Declaration, which was intended to move vaccines more quickly across the United States.

He explained, "The small amounts of H1N1 vaccine delivered are for priority groups first, these are people most vulnerable and easily susceptible to the H1N1 virus."

President Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency on Oct. 23.

The declaration gave Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect patients not infected with the virus.

So far, more than 4,000 people in the U.S. have died from the Novel H1N1 flu according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). At this time 48 states report widespread flu activity.

Types of H1N1 treatment include injections of the H1N1 vaccine and an H1N1 nasal spray. The live attenuated intranasal vaccine (LAIV) is only administered to people from 2 to 49 years of age who are not sick and do not have chronic health conditions, and to people 25 to 49 years of age and live with or care for infants younger than 6 months or are health care or emergency medical personnel.

The LAIV is not for pregnant women or people with long term health problems and children from six months to two years of age because the vaccine is made with a live weakened virus. The virus is attenuated, not to cause illness. You should not get the 2009 H1N1 LAIV if you have a severe (life-threatening) allergy to eggs or to any other substance in the vaccine. Tell the person giving the vaccine if you have any severe allergies.

The injectible H1N1 vaccine is made with an inactive virus. High risk, priority groups who should get the injectible H1N1 vaccine include:

• Pregnant women

• People who live with or provide care for children younger than six months;

• Health care and emergency medical service personnel;

• Children six months to 24 years of age;

• People 25 to 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 flu complications because of an underlying health condition or compromised immune systems.

Children who are nine years of age and younger should get two doses of the injectible H1N1 flu vaccine, about a month apart. Older children and adults need only one dose of the injectible H1N1 flu vaccine.

CDC recommends the following ways to stay healthy:

• Get vaccinated. Vaccination is the best protection we have against flu. Seasonal flu vaccine is available now and initial doses of 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine also are available, with additional doses available later this year.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread that way.

• Stay home if you get sick. Stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

• Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

• Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.

• Stay informed.

Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information. You can also call the Navajo Health Education Program at (928) 871-6258/6612. The Arizona Statewide Flu Hotline is (877) 764-2670.

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