State health officials prepare to vaccinate Hoosiers in October

Immunizations for the 2009 H1N1 influenza, the most predominate virus in Indiana, will be available to Hoosiers in mid-October, according to state officials. State health officials are joining with federal and local partners in preparing for the H1N1 immunization effort.

Indiana has confirmed 320 cases and four deaths from the virus. Currently, the 2009 H1N1 Influenza is categorized at the first level on the CDC’s Pandemic Severity Index – a level which indicates the case fatality rate at less than 0.1 percent.

Indiana has received 834,000 doses of the HINI immunization followed by 400,000 doses per week, according to Dr. Judith Monroe, Indiana state health commissioner. During a recent commission hearing, Monroe said Indiana will continue to receive the drug until 192 million doses are distributed across the country.

Monroe said high-risk individuals will be the first to receive the immunization, including pregnant women, babies under six months of age, health care and emergency medical service workers, children and young people ages six months to 24 years and people between 25 and 64 years who have chronic medical conditions.

The virus is spread by droplets released when someone sneezes or coughs. Studies have shown the virus may live up to 40 hours – on your hands for example – if temperatures and humidity levels are low enough.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend taking these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or with your sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the tissue and wash your hands;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Also, staying six feet away from others can help prevent the spread of the virus;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to help stop the spread of germs;
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are ill; and
  • If you have a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the H1N1 flu has two genes from pigs in Europe and Asia and avian (bird) genes and human genes. The official name of this virus is the 2009 H1N1-Influenze virus. There has never been a connection between this virus and the pork population in the United States.

Monroe said Indiana’s State Department of Health will be launching a campaign to help inform Hoosiers of the risks of getting the H1N1 flu and preventative measures to combat the spread of the virus.

Visit www.in.gov/flu or www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu for more information.