Nov. 4, 2009 — With H1N1 influenza already in wide circulation and the vaccine available only in limited quantities, health officials are giving priority to pregnant women, children and young adults between ages 2 and 24, healthcare and childcare workers, as well as people with chronic medical conditions.
Pregnant women are being advised to contact the Orange County Health Care Agency, which has received a shipment of vaccine, according to Dr. Susan Huang, director of epidemiology and infection prevention at UC Irvine Medical Center. In the meantime, the medical center has tightened visitation policies to lessen the risk of exposing UC Irvine Healthcare patients to the H1N1 virus.
Until further notice, no one under age 18 may visit patients admitted into the medical center unless the underage visitor is a parent of a patient, Huang said.
More H1N1 vaccine is anticipated to arrive in Orange County in coming weeks, followed by the vaccine for the seasonal flu virus, which is expected to surface before the end of 2009. Health officials recommend getting get both vaccines this year.
Although many people who contract seasonal flu viruses have relatively mild symptoms, influenza can cause serious illness. There are an average of 36,000 flu-related deaths each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Health officials have been especially concerned about H1N1 because it is a new strain of influenza, for which most people under age 50 have little or no immunity.
These steps can help you to stay healthy and to reduce the spread of all influenza viruses in your community: