Vail Valley awaits swine flu vaccine
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado- When Amanda Herbert swung by City Market in Avon this week to get her seasonal flu shot, she asked the pharmacist about something else: when will the swine flu vaccine reach the Vail Valley?Herbert and her husband, Patrick, are trying to decide whether they will get the H1N1 vaccine for themselves and their 18-month-old daughter when it becomes available in Eagle County.”I guess I just wonder if there are going to be any risks or side effects from it,” said Herbert, who lives in Avon. With the H1N1 vaccine expected to arrive in Eagle County this month, pharmacists and health care providers say they’re already fielding tons of questions about it.”At least 50 times a day,” said Kay Hensley, manager of the pharmacy at City Market in Avon.People want to know when the vaccine will be available and what restrictions will be in place on who can get it, Hensley said.Many questions about the vaccine remain unanswered as Eagle County awaits details from the state about when the vaccine is coming here and how much will arrive.Becky Larson, an epidemiologist for the Eagle County health department, said the county should begin receiving weekly shipments of the H1N1 vaccine in mid-October. She expects to find out this week from the state department of health and environment when the first shipment will arrive.State authorities say a shipment of 40,000 doses of vaccines for the H1N1 strain are on time for arrival in Colorado today.In Eagle County, the first does of vaccine will be made available only to health-care workers, Larson said. Once health care workers have been vaccinated, the county plans to devote the next shipments to high-risk groups like young children, Larson said. She doesn’t know yet when the vaccine will be available for high-risk people.Once high risk groups receive the vaccine, it will be made available to the general public, Larson said.”We’re hoping by early 2010 but at this time it just depends on the supplies that we get,” Larson said.The county is still working on a plan for how and where the flu shot will be given out, Larson said.It’s unclear when facilities like Vail Valley Medical Center and Colorado Mountain Medical will get the vaccine.”Eventually I think that private providers will be able to have it,” Larson said. “Again, that’s unknown.”
Worried about passing the flu on to her six-month-old son, Battle Mountain High School teacher Adrienne Czarniak got her seasonal flu shot this week.”I’ve already had several students out sick, and we’ve been in school for two weeks,” she said. “This is the first year in 10 years I’ve gotten (a flu shot.) I just don’t want my son to get sick.”More people are lining up for regular flu shots this season.”We’ve had a large increase in requests for flu shots this year,” said Ada Borg, clinical manager at Colorado Mountain Medical in Edwards.That trend is apparent at City Market in Vail and Avon as well, where pharmacies have been selling the flu vaccine since the first week of September.City Market in Vail had already given 322 shots by Monday, compared with 199 this time last year, pharmacy manager Courtney Lambrecht said. She thinks all the media hype surrounding H1N1 has been fueling interest in the regular flu shot.”H1N1 – everybody’s kind of scared of that, and because that’s on their radar, the regular flu is popping up on their radar too,” she said.Likewise, at City Market in Avon, the pharmacy had sold more than 700 flu shots by Monday, compared with about 400 in past years, Hensley said.The pharmacy has since run out of flu shots, but pharmacists said Wednesday they expect another shipment soon.As a result of the rush for flu shots, some providers have been struggling to keep the flu shot in stock. In some cases, shipments of the flu vaccine have been delayed because the manufacturers are tied up making the H1N1 vaccine, health care officials say.
Eagle County has seen an increase recently in outpatient visits for patients with flu-like illness, Larson said.”As far as, ‘Are they H1N1 or not?’ – a majority of the visits are not tested for H1N1, due to some testing restrictions and things like that. However, we probably are seeing some that are flu-like and some may possibly be H1N1,” she said.Hospitals can only order 10 tests for H1N1 per month from the state lab, Larson said. Those tests are for monitoring purposes and are not intended to diagnose the swine flu because the results come back days later, usually after the patient has already recovered, she said. So far, the county has reported one confirmed case of H1N1, she said. An adult patient at Vail Valley Medical Center was diagnosed with H1N1 in the beginning of September, she said. That person has since fully recovered, she said. There have been no swine flu deaths in the county, she said.The associated press contributed to this story.Find answers to more of your flu questions at: https://www.vaildaily.com/article/20091007/NEWS/910079967/1078&ParentProfile=1062
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.