WILLIAMS - The H1N1 Swine Flu virus continues to persist in Arizona with Yavapai County Community Health Services reporting the death of a middle-aged man last week as a result of the illness. In Coconino County, 58 cases of the virus have been confirmed with the death of an adolescent in June as a result of the illness. He had been hospitalized at Flagstaff Medical Center.
Cindy Christman, Director of the Williams Health Care Center, expects H1N1 vaccine to arrive at the center some time in the middle of October.
"Those are coming from the state health department and they will be dispensed to us with no cost, but that comes with some qualifiers. They have asked us to follow the guidelines from the CDC for the first round of H1N1 vaccines," she said.
Christman thinks the vaccine will become available in waves. Initially, children, pregnant mothers and healthcare workers will be administered the vaccine before it is made available to the general public.
"I think that there will probably be enough vaccine but it will come out later in the year," she said.
Although the swine flu virus has been highly publicized, Christman said the flu is an annual occurrence.
"People should realize that we have a flu season every year and the H1N1 is of course a new strain of flu. But there's bugs around everywhere, so I think there are some things you should do personally to protect yourself from the flu," she said. "Doing the same things you would do to avoid other strains of the flu will be effective against the H1N1 virus."
Christman recommended that residents of Williams receive the standard seasonal flu vaccine, wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing, in order to avoid spreading airborne viruses, avoid close contact with people that may be sick, and cover their mouth when sneezing and coughing.
"If you do become sick, if you have the symptoms of the flu, which is a fever, a dry cough and body aches, stay home," she said.
The Williams Health Care Center began its regular seasonal flu vaccination program last week and will continue through this Friday. Christman said demand for the seasonal flu vaccination has gone up this year with approximately 50 percent of the call volume in the last two weeks flu shot related. The center ordered 800 doses of the seasonal vaccine but has so far only received 500 of those doses.
Christman recommends that individuals make an appointment for the vaccination.
"It will be better for people coming in not having to wait a long time and also better for us to handle the crowd. It's a very short appointment. We got 500 doses so we'll give them until they're gone," Christman said. "I think another 300 will come eventually."
The Coconino County Health Department reports a total of 1,480 cases of the H1N1 flu statewide. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 212 deaths have resulted from the illness in Arizona.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there have been at least 1 million cases of pandemic H1N1 flu in the United States and at least 593 deaths. The CDC expects more hospitalizations and significant illness as a result of the virus this fall and winter during the flu season.
The Coconino County Health Department's Web site does emphasize that most people in the United States who have become ill with the N1H1 virus have recovered without requiring medical treatment.
To make an appointment, or for more information, contact WHCC at (928) 635-4441. Seasonal flu shots are also available in Flagstaff. To schedule an appointment, call the Coconino County Health Department Flu information Line at (928) 679-7300.