PLATTSBURGH — Regional health officials have not confirmed any new cases of swine flu in the area but warn that the H1N1 influenza strain is likely here.

Several regions in New York state have reported sporadic outbreaks of swine flu, and the Centers for Disease Control has determined that H1N1 is widespread in many states.

Meanwhile, local health departments are expecting shipments of the H1N1 nasal spray vaccine to arrive by the middle of next week.



KIDS FIRST

According to Clinton County Health Department Director Paula Calkins Lacombe, initial distribution of the product will be through local pediatric offices, where recommended target groups will begin to be vaccinated.

The CDC has recommended that all children 18 and under receive the H1N1 vaccine and all children 10 and under receive two shots one month apart.

Additional shipments are expected to follow and will continue to be distributed based on amounts received, Calkins Lacombe said in a news release.

Essex County will also be receiving H1N1 vaccines in a series of shipments and expects to receive the first shipment in a few days, according to the Essex County Health Department.

The Health Department will also work closely with local health-care providers to ensure that the public receives the H1N1 vaccine promptly.



PRIORITIES

Pregnant women top the list of priorities, since they are at higher risk of complications from the virus, and the shots may provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated.

Families with children younger than 6 months and caregivers for those children are also high on the list for receiving the vaccine, since infants 6 months and younger cannot receive the vaccine themselves.

The CDC is recommending that health-care providers and medical-services personnel receive vaccines to ensure health-care coverage should a influenza pandemic develop. New York state has mandated that health workers get the swine-flu shot.



MASS CLINICS

Franklin County Health Department is also working closely with area hospitals, schools and colleges, with guidance from the CDC and the State Health Department. The county will announce mass immunization clinics through its Web site as soon as enough vaccine becomes available.

“We want to make sure we have all the pieces in place and that we have everybody on board,” said Lorraine Kourofsky, prevention supervisor for the Health Department. “The communities have been very supportive.”

No regional schools have closed nor have there been any unusual spikes in absenteeism reported.



SEASONAL FLU

Regular seasonal flu vaccines continue to be provided throughout the region through health departments, doctors offices and area drug stores.

Health officials are recommending that people receive the seasonal vaccine as well as the H1N1 shots.

Officials also continue to promote such preventive measures as washing hands regularly, coughing or sneezing into a sleeve, using alcohol-based cleaners when soap and water is unavailable and staying home from school or work when sick.



E-mail Jeff Meyers at:

jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

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