Swine flu continues to spread in Oregon, according to state and local officials. Four new clinics will be held this week and next to help vaccinate people most at risk of getting the illness officially known as the H1N1 flu.Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 30, there were 698 hospitalizations and 18 deaths in Oregon attributed to influenza, according to a Douglas County Health and Social Services news release.
Of those, 14 hospitalizations were in Douglas County, and one man, a county resident older than 65, died elsewhere.
Almost all the hospitalizations and deaths are from the swine flu, although some have been due to another strain of flu.Due to the limited number of local deaths and concerns for privacy, the Douglas County Public Health Department will not be releasing further information on the county resident who died, Public Health promotion manager Marilyn Carter said this morning.As of Thursday, 4,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine had arrived in the county to date.
Douglas County Public Health expects another 4,100 doses to arrive in the first week of November. Those doses will be made available to registered H1N1 vaccine providers and to priority groups at the four upcoming clinics.
The state Department of Human Services has asked county health departments to use at least 30 percent of their vaccine allocations to provide clinics for people in priority groups who are not served by an enrolled H1N1 vaccine provider or who are uninsured.The priority groups are: everyone aged six months to 24 years old; pregnant women; people caring for, or living with, infants who are younger than six months of age; people from the ages of 25 to 64 who have health conditions that may put them at risk for complications from influenza — such as asthma, immune deficiencies, lung or heart disease and diabetes; health care workers and emergency medical service providers; law enforcement officers and firefighters who have frequent physical contact with the public as a part of their usual work; correction personnel in state prisons, local jails and juvenile correctional facilities who come into contact with adult or juvenile offenders; and public safety emergency telecommunications workers, including 911 call-takers and dispatchers.
The state Department of Human Services also encourages those without insurance or with no regular health care provider to call the Oregon Flu Hotline, toll free at 1-800-978-3040, Carter said.Callers can reach a “real person,” Carter said. “They can ask about the vaccine. They can ask about symptoms.”Health information specialists answer the line from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.According to the Centers for Disease Control, people should only go to an emergency room if they are very sick and have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness.Dawnelle Marshall, division director of Douglas County Public Health, said emergency warning signs may vary with the age of the patient.
In young children especially, parents may notice their children having difficulty breathing, to the point at which they are using muscles in their shoulder, chest and diaphragm to breathe, she said.Emergency warning signs in adults include shortness of breath, Marshall said. People may experience their chest feeling heavy, and they may have a hard time catching their breath even without strenuous activity, she said.
In adults older than 65, emergency warning signs may include disorientation due to a fever or dehydration.Severe dehydration from any cause can be another emergency warning sign, Marshall said.For more information, visit the following — Oregon Flu Web site, http://www.flu.oregon.gov/ or the Health Department Web site, www.co.douglas.or.us/health — or call the Health Department Flu Info Line at 464-3815.