Flu/H1N1 Information

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Increased Supply of H1N1 Flu Vaccine

There is now an increased supply of the H1N1 vaccine. It should be easier than ever to locate a health care provider or retail pharmacy that offers the vaccine.

If you are unable to connect with a provider, please call the State of Texas referral number, 2-1-1 or follow the link to the State’s Flu Vaccine Locator: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/txflu/flu-locator.shtm.

Pregnant Women are High-Priority Candidates for Influenza A (H1N1) Vaccination

By Dr. Charles E. L. Brown

“I'm pregnant. My baby is due in December. I'm planning to get vaccinated, but I’m concerned that results of vaccine studies in pregnant women aren't in yet. Should I wait or be vaccinated?”

If you are pregnant or close to someone who is, you are probably following the news about vaccines for seasonal flu and the new H1N1 virus.
I strongly support the official recommendation that pregnant women receive the injectable H1N1 vaccine at the earliest opportunity, unless I know that my patient is one of a small group for whom there is a valid medical reason not to be vaccinated. Ask your doctor about your personal circumstances.   
It is essential to keep in mind that infection with the H1N1 influenza virus can lead to serious – even fatal – illness, and that pregnant women are among the groups at highest risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of the first 700 pregnant women reported to have influenza since April, one in seven was admitted to an intensive care unit and 28 died from complications. In an average flu season, 25 of every 10,000 women in the third trimester are hospitalized with flu-related complications. (As a woman advances in her pregnancy, her immune system becomes more compromised, which is one of the reasons both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend women who will be pregnant during the flu season get flu shots. So, ask your doctor about your need for the flu shot, even if you are well along in your pregnancy.)

The H1N1 vaccine has been produced using the same rigorous methodology and the same materials as the seasonal flu vaccine, which has an “extraordinarily good safety record,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. H1N1 vaccine trials have been underway since Sept. 9 and there have been no reports of unexpected reactions to date.

Experts advise pregnant women against the use of nasal-spray flu vaccine because, although approved for health people 2-49 years of age, it is made with live, weakened flu viruses. While the live, attenuated virus vaccine is safe for normal, healthy individuals, experts recommend that certain patients – including pregnant women – receive the killed, injectable vaccine.
Newborns are also extremely vulnerable. Past flu studies have found that when women get flu shots before giving birth, they help build immunity for their child that is particularly helpful during the infant's first few months of life. Vaccination is recommended for breastfeeding women and anyone who has close contact with infants.  

Other precautions for pregnant healthcare workers

In most cases, pregnant healthcare workers do not require reassignment. However, like all associates, pregnant women should wear appropriate personal protective equipment while caring for any patient with suspected or known influenza.
The Web site flu.gov provides useful tips for pregnant women, but your best advisor is your obstetrician. Details on vaccine trials with pregnant women are posted at the National Institute of Allergies and Infections Diseases Web site.

Charles Edward Lee Brown, MD, earned his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine, followed by an OB-Gyn internship and residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Dr. Brown subsequently fellowed in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

The current Medical Director for
Central Texas Medical Foundation’s OB-Gyn Residency Program based at UniversityMedicalCenter Brackenridge, Dr. Brown has been honored with numerous leadership roles and faculty appointments throughout his career. He is well published, with over 60 peer review articles and abstracts. Dr. Brown has an MBA from the University of Texas Graduate School of Business, and has received various awards for academic achievement. He is also a member of several professional societies.

Advice From Dr. Pat Crocker

The Emergency Room at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas has been evaluating about 300 children per day, half of those exhibiting flu-like symptoms, since mid September.

Dr. Pat Crocker, chief of Emergency Medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Center, advises parents:

Call or see a doctor if your child has flu-like symptoms and:

  • is younger than a year old.
  • is more ill than you would expect.
  • has fever for more than three days.
  • is lethargic and symptoms do not improve after taking Tylenol.
  • has an existing chronic illness or some other risk factor.

Go to the emergency room if:

Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, trouble breathing, persistent vomiting, seizures or confusion.

Seton Prepared for Busier-Than-Normal Flu Season

Experts, including Seton’s own analysts, expect to see flu affect more adults.

KVUE News, H1N1 Flu Virus Moving to Adults - 9/22
Seton Director of Analytics Ryan Leslie

CBS The Early Show Who Needs to Come to the Emergency Room? - 9/23
Dell Children’s Medical Center Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Pat Crocker

ABC Good Morning America - 9/23
Dell Children’s Medical Center Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Pat Crocker

News 8 Austin Dell Children’s Medical Center a Model for Pandemic Management - 9/23
Dell Children’s Medical Center Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Pat Crocker

Replay live flu chat with Dr. Pat Crocker, chief of emergency medicine, Dell Children’s Medical Center

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

These tips apply to both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu (Swine flu).

  • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the used tissue in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
    • Stay home if you get sick. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice regarding closures, social distancing measures, avoiding crowds, etc.
  • Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.

Source: CDC.gov

Take Time to Get Vaccinated – It’s Your Best Defense!

  • Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu.
  • The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of serious complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and people 65 years or older.
  • Seasonal flu vaccine is also very important for healthcare workers and other people who live with or care for people in a high risk category.
  • A seasonal flu vaccine does not protect you from H1N1 (Swine flu).
  • A new vaccine against H1N1 is being developed and should be available in the fall.
  • People at greatest risk for H1N1 infection include children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions.

Source: CDC.gov

Watch this Web site for updated information on the availability of both seasonal flu and H1N1 flu shots.

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