H1N1 falls, regular flu rises

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The state health department has announced it is expanding the target group of those eligible for the H1N1 vaccination —just in time for Friday’s H1N1 flu shot clinic at the Covington County Health Department.

“Limited quantities” of the vaccine will be available to the following groups:

pregnant women.

household members and caregivers of children younger than 6 months, i.e., parents, siblings and child care providers.

health care and emergency medical services personnel.

those aged 6 months to 24-years-old.

those aged 25 to 64 with medical conditions association with a higher risk of flu complications, i.e., asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, HIV and certain types of arthritis.

However, many are still trying to decide whether or not to take the vaccine.

Opp pediatrician Dr. Bhagwan Bang urges residents to get the shot.

“I want Covington County residents who are hesitant to take swine flu vaccine but not the regular flu vaccine, to know that (regular) flu shots are not tested every year, while swine flu was tested in 10,000 people before getting approval,” he said. “I don‘t want them to feel bad if two or three months down the road, and swine flu starts becoming more virulent.”

Bang said his office is beginning to see a decrease in the number of swine flu cases and an increase in seasonal flu cases.

“Now, the (Centers for Disease Control) is reporting an increasing number of deaths (attributed to the regular flu),” he said. “There is a tendency to test those who are very sick and who qualify for treatment, hence the actual cases may be much more than we know. I actually saw five to 10 cases each day last week that I wanted to test, which is a significant increase.”

Bang also said he believes the current cases are from a different strain than his cases.