Wednesday, November 4, 2009

As H1N1 Flu Activity Increases, Delaware County Public Health Urges Residents to Stay Home When Sick, Follow Other Preventive Measures

November 3, 2009

Larger Supplies of Vaccine Expected to be Available by Mid-November

With cases of H1N1 flu increasing and not enough vaccine to meet current needs, the Delaware County Public Health is urging residents to stay home if they are sick and follow other preventive measures to limit the spread of the flu.

“Flu activity is currently widespread and increasing across New York State,” said Bonnie Hamilton Delaware County Public Health Director, noting that almost all of the flu activity so far this fall is caused by the H1N1 flu virus, although seasonal flu is expected to begin circulating later in the flu season.

“While vaccine offers the greatest protection from the flu, there are currently not enough H1N1 flu vaccine supplies to meet the demand due to delays in production reported by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” said Bonnie Hamilton. “We are scheduling H1N1 clinics as we receive vaccine”, said Bonnie Hamilton. “The vaccine shipped to us dictates what priority groups and populations we can administer the vaccine to.”

Currently Delaware County Public Health has two H1N1 clinics planned for Delaware County residents only. On Friday November 6 H1N1 nasal spray vaccine clinic will be held at Delaware County Public Health, and on Friday November 13 Delaware County Public Health will be holding another H1N1 clinic. People must call Delaware County Public Health at 832-5200 to be screened for an appointment.

“As we wait for vaccine to become more plentiful in the coming weeks, there are important measures Delaware County residents can take to reduce their chances of getting and spreading the flu”, said Bonnie Hamilton.

Bonnie Hamilton urges all residents to take the following measures:

· Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow, not your hands. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you aren’t near a sink.
· Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Flu spreads that way.
· Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
· Stay home when you are sick, and do not return to school or work until you have been fever-free without medication for at least 24 hours.

“You don’t need to go to a hospital emergency department if your illness is mild,” said Bonnie Hamilton. “Most people with the flu have mild to moderate symptoms and recover at home without medical treatment.”

However, Bonnie Hamilton emphasizes there are times when it is appropriate to seek medical treatment. “Any individuals experiencing severe or worsening symptoms should immediately contact their health care providers”, she said.

Signs that medical treatment may be needed for children include:

n Fast breathing or trouble breathing
n Refusing to drink fluids
n Severe vomiting or diarrhea that won’t stop
n Being too irritable to be held
n Bluish skin color
n Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
n Fever with a rash

Signs that medical treatment may be needed for adults include:

n Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
n Pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
n Sudden dizziness
n Confusion
n Severe vomiting that won’t stop
n Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Bonnie Hamilton recommends that individuals at higher risk for serious illness and complications from the flu contact their health care provider at the first sign of the flu to see if it is appropriate for them to be prescribed an antiviral medicine, such as Tamiflu, which can reduce the severity of the flu.

Bonnie Hamilton said the New York State Health Department is getting vaccine to health care providers in the State as quickly as the vaccine is made available by the CDC. But due to unanticipated production delays at the manufacturing level, large quantities of vaccine needed for widespread vaccination may not be available until mid-November or later.

Bonnie Hamilton said that an individual’s regular health care provider may be the best option for getting vaccinated, and residents should check with their providers to see if they are expecting to receive vaccine. Individuals whose providers indicate they will not be vaccinating should check the Delaware County Public Health website at for information about local vaccination clinics. Details will be provided if and when clinics are scheduled.

More information on the flu is available at or on the State Health Department’s website at; and on the CDC website at

Residents with questions may also call the State Health Department Toll-free Hotline at 1-800-808-1987.

CONTACT: Heather Warner
Phone number: 607-832-5200
Email address: