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State’s Hotline Addresses Swine Flu Concerns

HARTFORD — The state now has a special hotline to address questions and concerns about the H1N1 flu virus.

 The hotline is staffed by the state Department of Public Health  from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, state officials said.

The H1N1 hotline is: 1-800-830-9426.
According the officials, the public can now get the most up-to-date information this flu season on the swine flu, including vaccine availability, clinics and recommendations for staying healthy and keeping your family healthy.

Novel H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. The virus can spread likes seasonal flu, especially through coughs and sneezes. Novel H1N1 influenza symptoms are similar to symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, lethargy, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting with novel H1N1 influenza.

Gov. Jodi Rell’s office said Connecticut is expected to begin receiving about 20,000 doses of the intranasal H1N1 vaccine this week for use in children 2 to 4 years of age.

The intranasal vaccine has received federal approval for use in healthy persons 2-49 years of age, who are not pregnant. DPH, in accordance with the state H1N1 vaccination distribution plan, advises that the initial shipments of the intranasal vaccine be used for healthy children 2-4, who are at greater risk for severe illness if they contract the H1N1 or the so-called swine flu.

The first round of vaccine is also being made available to vaccinate caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months of age and hospital healthcare workers and Emergency Medical Services personnel with direct patient contact, officials said.

After the initial shipment of intranasal vaccine, the state is expected to receive more than 500,000 doses of both the injectable and intranasal H1N1 vaccines by mid-October and then several thousand more in weekly shipments thereafter.

More than 1,500 doctors and other health care providers have registered with DPH to administer the H1N1 vaccine this flu season.

Prevention is the key to staying healthy this flu season. The Department of Public Health offers the following recommendations:

* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not nearby, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or the crook of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

* Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

* Stay away from people who are sick.

* If you get sick, limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
For more information on the H1N1 virus or the seasonal flu in Connecticut visit: http://www.ct.gov/ctfluwatch

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State Prepares to Rollout Swine Flu Vaccine

HARTFORD — State officials are taking steps to stave off the spread of swine flu.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced today that H1N1 (swine) flu vaccinations will be made free to the public and said the state is recruiting doctors and other health care providers to administer the vaccine as soon as the federal government makes it available. Connecticut could initially receive up to 1.8 million doses, according to a press release.

“We are making extensive preparations in advance of flu season to safeguard our citizens,” Rell said.
Connecticut has had more than 1,900 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus and nine deaths, all of whom were people with underlying medical conditions.

Swine flu vaccines will be available at no cost in the state. Nationwide,  the U.S. may have as many as 160 million doses of swine flu vaccine available sometime in October, even though manufacturers worldwide are having serious trouble brewing shots, federal health officials said in June artile by the Associated Press. Those who are deemed most vulnerable will be given priority when the first shipments of vaccine arrive, Rell said.

State health officials say the most at-risk groups are:

· pregnant women

· children ages 6 months to 4 years old

· children ages 5-18 with chronic medical conditions

· individuals who care for children

· health care professionals with direct patient contact

The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) anticipates that an H1N1 vaccine will be licensed and ready for distribution by mid-fall of 2009. The Governor said federal funds will be available to reimburse doctors and other providers who administer the vaccine. The vaccine is administered in two doses at least four weeks apart.

howswine-flu-spreadsDoctors and health care providers interested in administering the vaccine will soon be able to register with the federal government so they can order the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. State health officials say the registration is necessary to compile shipping and contact information to allow the state to have vaccine sent directly to each doctor’s office. There is no cost to sign up and registered providers are not committed to provide the vaccine.

Federal registration forms will be available soon and can be accessed through DPH at www.ct.gov/ctfluwatch/providers .

The vaccine is expected to be available in a combination of settings including public health-organized vaccination clinics, private doctors’ offices, Visiting Nurse Associations and retail clinics. State health officials say a vaccine for seasonal influenza will also be available this fall.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself from the flu, please go to www.ct.gov/ctfluwatch .

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