H1N1 vaccine, seasonal flu vaccine available

The Pondera County Health Department (PCHD) in cooperation with Montana Department of Health and Human Services is now able to offer H1N1 vaccine to anyone who desires it., Cynthia Grubb, RN, CLC at the PCHD tells the I-O.

The state has assessed the availability for high risk groups and found the supply to be adequate to expand vaccination efforts. H1N1 vaccination is available through the PCHD, 809 Sunset Blvd. in the basement of the Pondera Medical Clinic Building. Their phone number is 271-3248.

“There is no cost of this vaccination it’s free,” says Grubb.  While H1N1 disease activity has waned, CDC reminds people that influenza is unpredictable. Some previous pandemics have included a third wave. “We are in a window of opportunity to increase the number of people who receive the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccination lessening the possibility of a third wave as more people gain immunity to the 2009 H1N1 virus,” she said.

Also notable and good news for the community, the Health Department has received additional doses of seasonal flu vaccine.

As seasonal flu rates historically peak in February or March and seasonal flu is not currently predominant among the community’s circulating viruses, it is prime time to receive seasonal flu vaccination. Doses are now available through the PCHD. Call  271-3247 or the Pondera Medical Center Clinic at 271-3231 for information or an appointment. Cost of these doses remains at $25 per shot and will be distributed by appointment on a first-come first-serve basis.

Pneumonia and influenza mortality remains above epidemic threshold for the 11th week in a row according to the CDC.

Montana State DPHHS has recorded that 19 Montanans have died from swine flu. Of the 19 deaths statewide, 12 were adults aged 45 to 64, most of which had pre-existing medical conditions.

The virus also seems more deadly for Native American populations. In Montana, the death rate for American Indians is 7.6 per 100,000, compared to a rate of 1.5 per 100,000 among whites possibly related to a prevalence of chronic medical conditions among Indian populations.

“Remember,” adds Grubb, “the 2009 H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal influenza vaccine – it is intended to be used along-side seasonal influenza vaccine.”

A public clinic is scheduled in Valier, Dec. 28 at the Civic Center from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. with both types of vaccine offered.