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Flu cases rising in Kent County


 

 

Flu cases are rising in Kent County, and the Kent County Health Department urges parents to make sure their family is protected against the flu by getting vaccinated.

The KCHD said that we have not yet reached the peak of flu season, and the number of cases continues to rise. There are 324 reported flu cases in Kent County as of January 7; epidemiologists estimate only 8 percent of cases get reported, so the actual number could be more than 2800.

“Many adults have this misconception that the flu vaccine is just for kids, the elderly, or people who have medical conditions,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Even healthy adults need protection. The CDC reports an increase in severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults due to influenza A (H1N1) this year. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age.” The vaccine can take ten days to two weeks to become effective. Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). The KCHD says that if you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine is $25 for injectable three strain vaccine, $29 for preservative free three strain vaccine, $30 for preservative free four strain vaccine or $33 for FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine).

Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

Flu information is also available on an information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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Health department vaccine clinics full


(Grand Rapids, MI) – The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) announces that reservations are no longer being accepted for the novel H1N1 influenza vaccine clinics scheduled at the health department on November 14 and 21. Since last Tuesday, those in certain priority groups for vaccination have been calling the United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline to make reservations at one of three vaccination clinics. 2-1-1 staff worked diligently to take calls and fill the schedule. As of 5:03 p.m. Monday, all reservations were filled.

KCHD held the first of three clinics this past Saturday, November 7. Clients and staff reported that the reservation system allowed for a smooth and efficient experience, with very brief wait times. Health Department staff expects that the two upcoming clinics will operate just as efficiently.

At this time, Kent County’s H1N1 vaccination efforts are still targeting Kent County residents who are:
• Pregnant
• Caretakers of children under 6 months
• Between the ages of 6 months and 24 years
• Between the ages of 25 and 64 and have a health condition associated with a high risk of medical complications from influenza.

So far, Kent County has received over 70,000 doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine. Local healthcare providers have received a large portion of vaccine to vaccinate those in the target groups. Anyone who belongs to one of the target groups and who would like to be vaccinated against novel H1N1 influenza should contact their health care provider to see if the provider plans to offer the vaccine.

“We do anticipate that anyone who wants a vaccine will eventually be able to get one,” said Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for KCHD.

As vaccine becomes more widely available, KCHD will provide information on how to get vaccinated on its web site, www.stickittotheflu.com. Those wishing to be vaccinated are encouraged to check the site often, and exercise patience as local care providers and the health department strive to protect Kent County residents through distribution of vaccine, a powerful public health tool.

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Reservations begin for H1N1 vaccine clinics


Kent County residents who are at high risk for complications from novel H1N1 influenza may now reserve their spot at upcoming vaccination clinics at the Kent County Health Department (KCHD).

Clinics will be offered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on three Saturdays: November 7, 14, and 21. Vaccines will be administered by reservation only at the following KCHD clinic locations:
Main Clinic – 700 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Sheldon Clinic – 121 Franklin St. SE Ste. 130, Grand Rapids, MI 49507

The vaccine is expected to become more widely available in the coming weeks, as manufacturers distribute more vaccine. In Kent County, residents are advised to check with their doctor to see if they plan to offer the vaccine when it arrives. If so, residents should receive the vaccine at the doctor’s office. (See story below).

Requirements for getting vaccinated at one of KCHD’s H1N1 vaccine clinics are as follows:
Must be Kent County resident and belong to one of the following high-risk groups:
• Pregnant women
• Caretakers of children under 6 months
• Those age 6 months to 24 years
• Ages 25 and 64 and have a health condition associated with a high risk of medical complications from influenza

KCHD is enlisting the aid of our area 2-1-1 center to handle all reservations for the upcoming H1N1 flu vaccination clinics. To lessen the possibility of long lines of people with no guarantee of vaccine, the vaccine clinics will not be taking walk-in traffic. Instead, those who meet the vaccination criteria must call 2-1-1 or (616) 459-2255 to schedule a vaccine time.

United Way’s 2-1-1 is a free hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to all Kent County residents. It is the primary information and referral number to call in Kent County for community services. Callers are asked to be patient as they call to reserve their appointments. KCHD anticipates a high volume of phone calls, and callers may have to hold for several minutes. Calls will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Currently, the demand for H1N1 vaccine surpasses the supply, so not every caller will be able to reserve a spot.

“We do anticipate that anyone who wants a vaccine will eventually be able to get one,” said Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “We ask for patience and civility as we work to make reservations for those who need vaccine the most. We chose to sign people up in advance to avoid the frustration and disappointment people might feel after waiting in line for hours only to be told there is no vaccine remaining. We hope that by using 2-1-1 we are streamlining the clinic processes and signing up only as many people as doses of the vaccine to avoid chaos and disappointment.”

KCHD has received numerous calls from concerned residents over the last few weeks. Many of these calls are from people who would like to be vaccinated against novel H1N1 influenza. While the vaccine is being pushed out into the community as fast as it is arriving, it has been arriving slower than originally anticipated.

Vaccination is the number one way to avoid the flu each year, but there are other measures that people can take to stay healthy including avoiding people who are ill, washing hands thoroughly, and avoiding touching the facial area.

“Most of us who come down with H1N1 flu will experience mild illness and a quick recovery,” added Raevsky. “But some people are at higher risk for severe illness than others, so it’s important that we vaccinate those individuals as soon as possible.”

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Next wave of H1N1 vaccine being sent to doctors


The Kent County Health Department is starting to distribute novel H1N1 influenza vaccine, and people in certain high risk groups are being asked to contact their primary care physician to get the shot.

“Nobody understands a person’s risk factors like their doctor,” said Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for KCHD. “By getting vaccine into doctors’ offices, we can identify and vaccinate those most at risk for severe illness. Using local physicians is the best way to protect individuals in these target populations.”

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) announced last week Wednesday that it was starting to distribute the vaccine to local health care providers for vaccination of patients in certain target groups. Target groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months, people between 6 months and 24 years, and people at high risk for the virus due to chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems. These target groups encompass about half of the population of Kent County. According to Bridie Bereza, of the KCHD, partnering with local health care providers allows KCHD to expand its vaccination capacity. She said that Kent County is fortunate to have more than 150 community partners signed up to assist in the vaccination effort.

“Most providers are vaccinating their own patients. Using local health care providers diffuses the initial rush to a single point of mass vaccination, which has caused long lines and unruly crowds at vaccination clinics across the nation,” she explained. “Because many in the target population are stroller-bound, wheelchair-bound, pregnant, or require special medical attention, a mass vaccination clinic with its long waits and parking challenges would unduly burden those targeted to get vaccinated first for the novel H1N1 flu.”

KCHD will begin holding special clinics to serve those who are not able to get the novel H1N1 flu vaccine from their health care provider. Dates, times, locations, and the process for securing a vaccine can be found in an accompanying story on page ?. The information also will be available at stickittotheflu.com and on our vaccine information line, (616) 742-4FLU.

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Flu is on the rise in Kent County


By Judy Reed

The latest statistics on influenza show that schools have been hit four times harder this year than in the previous three years.

According to the Kent County Health Department, at the end of last week, 2.36 percent of students across the county were out with influenza. Between 2006 and 2008, the average at this time of year was only .52 percent, or just over one-half of one percent.

“While we are seeing an unprecedented number of school-aged students out with flu-like illnesses very early in the season,” said Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for KCHD, “this does not come as a surprise. We anticipated that seasonal and H1N1 influenza would be very active this fall, and that’s exactly what has happened as kids spend more time in close quarters and flu season gets underway.”

Many schools across West Michigans are closing due to the number of student absences. According to Cedar Springs Superintendent Ron McDermed, they also have seen an increase in absences, but not enough to close. “Our buildings today are running between nine and 14 percent absences,” said McDermed. “Although this is higher than normal for this time of year, it is not cause for alarm. Buildings and districts closing are in the 25 percent range. The idea of closing is to stop the spread of the virus, so if we begin to notice a marked spike upward, we would close to protect the well-being of our kids.”

According to Assistant Superintendent Dave Cairy, they call the numbers of absences in daily to the Health Department, who then keeps track of how many cases they have.

The KCHD statistics do not differentiate between the different types of influenza.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that spreads through respiratory secretions from an infected person. Most people recover from the flu without needing medical treatment. Simple precautions can help prevent the spread of flu. KCHD strongly recommends that anyone with flu-like symptoms stay home for at least 24 hours after fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications. Also, it is important to cover your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and wash hands often to avoid spreading germs.

Vaccination is the number one way to prevent the flu. The Health Department recommends getting a seasonal flu vaccine as early as possible. Because H1N1 was identified too late to be included in this year’s seasonal flu shot, two shots are recommended this year—one for seasonal influenza and one for novel H1N1 influenza. Novel H1N1 flu vaccinations are expected to be widely available in the coming months and when they are, they will be administered by area physicians, pharmacies, and special clinics at KCHD. As novel H1N1 flu vaccine clinic dates and times become available, they will be posted at stickittotheflu.com as well as on the vaccination information line, (616) 742-4FLU.

Check out our health section on page 7 to find out where flu shots are being offered next week.

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Flu shots available at City Hall and school


Residents in the area will be able to get a seasonal flu shot next week at flu clinics being held at both Cedar Springs City Hall and Cedar Springs Public Schools.

Spectrum Health Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) will hold a flu clinic at Cedar Springs City Hall on October 27 from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. The cost of the shot is $30. VNA will bill participants of Priority Health and will vaccinate anyone over 9 years of age.

Cedar Springs Public Schools, in a partnership with Spectrum Health, will be offering a flu shot clinic for staff and members of the Cedar Springs Community (ages 5 years and older).  The clinic will be held at the District Service Center on Tuesday, October 27 from 7:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. and Thursday, October 29 from 3:00-4:00 p.m.  No appointment is necessary. The cost is $30.00/shot. You may pay with cash, check, or Medicare card (must have card with you).

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H1N1 vaccination arrives in Grand Rapids


Health department employee Ann Ivy unpacking the first shipment of novel H1N1 vaccination in a cooler Tuesday morning.

Health department employee Ann Ivy unpacking the first shipment of novel H1N1 vaccination in a cooler Tuesday morning.

The H1N1 vaccine will soon be available to the public in Kent County. According to the Kent County Health Department, they received 3,800 doses of the H1N1 novel vaccine Tuesday morning, and expect 16,000 doses to arrive this week.

These doses will be given to hospital medical personnel and emergency medical responders first. Most of the vaccine will be shipped directly to hospitals.

Subsequent deliveries will be dispensed in a variety of settings and are anticipated to arrive in Kent County within the month. Providers will dispense the vaccine first to people in the following priority groups:
•    healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
•    pregnant women
•    people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
•    people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old
•    people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for novel H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
Once vaccination demand has been met for priority groups, vaccination will begin for anyone who would like the novel H1N1 influenza vaccination. Currently, no novel H1N1 influenza is available to the public. They anticipate that the vaccine will become available to everyone later this month. When it becomes available, H1N1 vaccine will be offered at participating doctors’ offices, retail outlets, and at all health department locations. KCHD is not taking appointments for vaccination at this time.

Please monitor (616) 742-4FLU and stickittotheflu.com for updates on the availability of novel H1N1 influenza vaccine in Kent County. Dates, times, and locations for novel H1N1 flu vaccinations will be posted as they become available.

For information on where to get the seasonal flu shot, please check with participating pharmacies and physicians or visit www.spectrum-health.org/flu to find a link for seasonal flu shot clinics. KCHD offers seasonal flu shots for children only. The flu hotline, (616) 742-4FLU has further details.

Finally, local health departments are responsible for distribution of novel H1N1 flu vaccine in respective jurisdictions. Please note that the process for distribution of vaccine in Kent County may differ from the process in neighboring jurisdictions. This could cause confusion in various reading, viewing, and listening areas, so it’s important to gather information specific to each jurisdiction.

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Avoid the flu blues: it’s time for seasonal flu vaccines


Avoid the flu blues: it’s time for seasonal flu vaccines
Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 1, 2009 – D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare, Felpausch, Glen’s and VG’s neighborhood stores are pleased to announce beginning October 1, they will be providing seasonal flu and pneumonia vaccinations. This provides convenient locations for area residents to receive low cost seasonal flu and pneumonia vaccinations and educational materials.
“We urge area residents to take advantage of this low-cost community service and protect themselves against both influenza and pneumonia,” said Eddie Garcia, director of pharmacy for Spartan Stores. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, the single best way to protect against the seasonal flu is to get your vaccination each year.”
The cost of a seasonal flu shot is $25 while pneumonia vaccine, available at select locations only, is available for a $50 charge. Participants may pay with cash, check or money order. Medicare part B is also accepted unless the participant has a supplement insurance provider. Summit Health is administering seasonal flu shots and pneumonia vaccines.
Who should get the seasonal flu vaccine?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/; in general, anyone who wants to reduce the chances of getting the flu should get vaccinated every year. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or people who live with or care for high-risk individuals.
People who are at high risk for complications from seasonal flu should get a seasonal flu vaccine each year are:
Children 6 months through 18 years of age,
Pregnant women,
People 50 years of age and older,
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from seasonal flu should get a seasonal flu vaccine each year are:
Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above),
Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated), and
Healthcare workers.
The flu and pneumonia vaccinations are not recommended for anyone with egg, chicken or feather allergies.
If you have any questions regarding the 2009 seasonal flu vaccination, please consult your physician. In order to ensure the safety of each customer, Summit Health registered nurses will provide appropriate health screenings prior to administering any vaccines. The timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later. The flu usually spreads from person-to-person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and the virus is transmitted into the air. Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu causes severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. Each year in the United States on average, 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu; on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications, and; about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.
Seasonal Flu and Pneumonia shots will be given at area Family Fare stores on:
October 6, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 565 South State, Sparta
October 6, 2009, 1-5pm – 5241 Northland Dr., Grand Rapids
October 15, 2009, 1-5pm – 4175 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs
October 27, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 5241 Northland Dr., Grand Rapids
October 30, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 4175 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs
November 3, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 565 South State, Sparta

Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 1, 2009 – D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare, Felpausch, Glen’s and VG’s neighborhood stores are pleased to announce beginning October 1, they will be providing seasonal flu and pneumonia vaccinations. This provides convenient locations for area residents to receive low cost seasonal flu and pneumonia vaccinations and educational materials.

“We urge area residents to take advantage of this low-cost community service and protect themselves against both influenza and pneumonia,” said Eddie Garcia, director of pharmacy for Spartan Stores. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, the single best way to protect against the seasonal flu is to get your vaccination each year.”

The cost of a seasonal flu shot is $25 while pneumonia vaccine, available at select locations only, is available for a $50 charge. Participants may pay with cash, check or money order. Medicare part B is also accepted unless the participant has a supplement insurance provider. Summit Health is administering seasonal flu shots and pneumonia vaccines.

Who should get the seasonal flu vaccine?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/; in general, anyone who wants to reduce the chances of getting the flu should get vaccinated every year. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or people who live with or care for high-risk individuals.

People who are at high risk for complications from seasonal flu should get a seasonal flu vaccine each year are:

Children 6 months through 18 years of age,

Pregnant women,

People 50 years of age and older,

People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and

People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from seasonal flu should get a seasonal flu vaccine each year are:

Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above),

Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated), and

Healthcare workers.

The flu and pneumonia vaccinations are not recommended for anyone with egg, chicken or feather allergies.

If you have any questions regarding the 2009 seasonal flu vaccination, please consult your physician. In order to ensure the safety of each customer, Summit Health registered nurses will provide appropriate health screenings prior to administering any vaccines. The timing and duration of flu seasons vary. While flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later. The flu usually spreads from person-to-person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and the virus is transmitted into the air. Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu causes severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. Each year in the United States on average, 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu; on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications, and; about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.

Seasonal Flu and Pneumonia shots will be given at area Family Fare stores on:

October 6, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 565 South State, Sparta

October 6, 2009, 1-5pm – 5241 Northland Dr., Grand Rapids

October 15, 2009, 1-5pm – 4175 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs

October 27, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 5241 Northland Dr., Grand Rapids

October 30, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 4175 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs

November 3, 2009, 10-2 p.m. – 565 South State, Sparta

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