Fleeing From The Flu

  “Nurse Karen” has agreed to be a regular contributor of information regarding health concerns. This is a timely one… while I was at the school today, the kids were working up their courage for their shots!

There is still a lot of media coverage regarding H1N1 flu on TV, radio and in the newspapers. It is important to me, as a Public Health Nurse, to provide the most current information. The high priority groups for receiving the H1N1 vaccine are pregnant women, children and young adults 6 months through 25 years of age, caregivers and household contacts of infants under 6 months of age because this population is too young to receive a flu immunization, persons 25 through 65 years of age with underlying health conditions, especially respiratory conditions, health care workers, and then all others who want a vaccine.

H1N1 is widespread in Maine. Most available vaccines are going to pregnant women and school children. Vaccinating children, who are major transmitters of the flu, does provide some protection to the entire community. Since April, 2009, 134 children have died in the United States after becoming ill with H1N1.

Remember to avoid close contact with people who are sick, wash/sanitize hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are ill, and get the seasonal and H1N1 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

For the most up to date information go to www.flu.gov or www.maineflu.gov. You can also e-mail flu questions to flu.questions@maine.gov.

On a personal note, I assisted at the large flu clinic at the Bangor Auditorium on October 28th. I arrived at 8:30AM. The line of school children and their parents, teachers, and superintendents already extended well beyond the doors of the Auditorium. I made my way into the Auditorium after introducing myself to a security guard and reported to “command central”. I received a quick update, a red vest which identified me as an immunizer, and directions to receive my assignment in the Auditorium. I was lead to a table with supplies, given both the seasonal and H1N1 vaccine, and a few minutes to get organized. There were 3-4 nurses at each table and about 25 tables were utilized. Not only were school age children immunized but their siblings as well who may not have been old enough to attend school yet. Parents often arrived with 2-4 children or more. Pregnant women were immunized. Many children received both seasonal and H1N1 vaccinations at the same time. That means a parent might arrive with 2 children and I gave 4 immunizations. Then it was time to meet another family. Every available Public Health Nurse at the Bangor office was utilized, including our supervisor. Our office manager was called in and utilized to assist with the necessary paperwork to show proof of immunizations. Not all tables had a person to assist with paperwork and the nurses who were immunizing also did the paperwork. By 5 PM I was exhausted! It was a good experience to be involved with such a large immunization clinic. More than 2800 children were immunized. Not one parent ever complained to me about the long line or the long wait. I did receive many thanks however, from parents for assisting at such a large clinic with many young and frightened children, for my choice to become a nurse, and for having patience with many children who had already decided they were not going to be immunized long before they saw me…and then received immunizations, much to their surprise! That is the real news story!

Walter notes: I keep spelling flu wrong! I blame it on a little poem I learned as a kid.

A flea and a fly in a flue

Were imprisoned–so what could they do?

Said the flea, “Let us fly!”

Said the fly, “Let us flee!”

So they flew through the flaw in the flue.

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