DOWNEY - City of Downey staff and the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department are working together to plan for the upcoming flu season.This year there will be two separate flu vaccination programs. The first vaccination will be for the 'seasonal' flu virus. The city will host a free seasonal flu-shot clinic on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Downey Theatre. The clinic will be a combination drive-up and walk-up clinic. The drive-up option is for adults who have a difficult time getting through the walk-up system. This is the first year the city has offered a drive-up option. A map of the drive-up area and a traffic circulation plan will be provided in the future editions of The Downey Patriot. The second vaccination this season is for the H1N1flu virus. The forecasted health and community impacts of this virus have been reported as a potentially serious threat to exposed communities by the media. However, until the H1N1 virus returns to this area through person to person contact, the virulence of the virus will remain an unknown. The city is making plans to host a series of free H1N1 flu-shot clinics in the latter part of October, three weeks later in November and again in early December. As of this writing, an H1N1 vaccination requires a series of two doses of vaccine. Current science recommends a three week separation of time between the two doses. City staff members from the Fire, Community Services, Police and Emergency Management departments are meeting frequently with representatives from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, Downey Regional Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente. The objective of the team is to ensure the planning and operations of the flu-shot clinics is effective and efficient. Experts warn that school age children, seniors and those with chronic health problems are the most likely to have problems with the seasonal flu. Children and young adults in school are considered the primary carriers of the virus because of their associations and close work with so many people. Care givers for those with the flu are also at risk for exposure to the virus. The H1N1 flu virus has been particularly hard on young people and those with chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart problems and breathing difficulties. Hence experts are emphasizing the importance of vaccinating the 5-25 year olds and chronically ill individuals. However, all members of the community are encouraged to receive the H1N1 vaccinations. The rationale for this recommendation is based on the concept of keeping as many people 'well' as possible to contribute to care giving, to maintain the workforce and to lower the number of potential carriers of the virus. There are a large number of websites that offer information on this issue. The following websites are frequently updated with accurate information on the seasonal and H1N1 flu: www.flu.gov, www.cdc.gov/flu and www.mayoclinic.com/health/swine-flu/ano2000. The development of the seasonal flu vaccine this year is very similar to the annual flu vaccine programs of the past. Scientists and medical professionals team-up and develop a vaccine for a forecasted strain of the flu virus. Unfortunately, the seasonal vaccine is not always an exact match for the actual flu virus. However, experts recommend the vaccination is still the best way to ward off the flu. The vaccine is not a live virus and does not cause people to become sick with the flu.
********** Published: September 4, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 20