Archive for Thursday, November 12, 2009

Q&A with Kansas health officer about H1N1

State health officer Jason Eberhart-Phillips administers an H1N1 vaccination to three-year-old Osmond Chong as he is held by his mother Yvonne Lai on Wednesday during an H1N1 clinic at Quail Run Elementary. Eberhart-Phillips spent the evening observing and volunteering at the clinic.

State health officer Jason Eberhart-Phillips administers an H1N1 vaccination to three-year-old Osmond Chong as he is held by his mother Yvonne Lai on Wednesday during an H1N1 clinic at Quail Run Elementary. Eberhart-Phillips spent the evening observing and volunteering at the clinic.

November 12, 2009


State health officer visits Lawrence H1N1 clinic

State health officer Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips visited Quail Run Elementary during the Wednesday H1N1 clinic. Enlarge video

The state’s health officer had the day off for Veterans Day, so he spent it by volunteering at an H1N1 immunization clinic in Lawrence.

Swine Flu Pandemic

An outbreak of H1N1 Swine Flu was reported in Mexico in April 2009. By the end of May, it had spread across the U.S., with all 50 states reporting cases.

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, of Lecompton, said he wanted to see firsthand how the mass vaccination clinics were going and it was his first chance to do so.

He talked with volunteers and administered vaccines during the four-hour clinic at Quail Run — one of seven Lawrence schools that had a clinic on Wednesday. Another seven schools are having clinics today.

Before his volunteer work, he provided a one-on-one interview about the H1N1 virus:

Q: Should people get the H1N1 immunization vaccine?

A: If you are in the priority groups — those who are at an increased risk of serious complications from getting the virus — we recommend that you get the vaccine. In clinics like this, it is very easy to do and costs nothing. It’s very safe and we are monitoring the safety very carefully. We are finding no serious adverse reactions.

Q: Why have the priority groups been condensed and when will it the list expand?

A: We did that temporarily because when supply is low, we needed to prioritize within those groups to make sure that the people with the absolute greatest need can get the vaccine first. But, I anticipate that’s going to expanded very shortly as we get more vaccine online and as more and more people have received the vaccine.

Q: How much vaccine is the state receiving?

A: It’s a little less than 1 percent of the whole national supply and that’s in the 48 million dose range right now. So, it’s still far, far short of what we need to cover the entire population. But slowly, but surely, we are making progress and each week there’s more vaccine available.

Q: When will the vaccine be available for those who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes?

A: That’s going to be a determination in each county based on their assessment of how much demand remains in the narrower groups. When they feel that those populations that want the vaccine have gotten it, then they will expand it. I am anticipating that will happen very shortly. So, all of those adults under age 64 with chronic conditions that put them at increased risk of severe disease — such as diabetes, asthma and other underlying conditions — they will get the vaccination fairly shortly.

Q: When there are reports of deaths in Kansas due to the swine flu, most have had underlying health conditions. What are those conditions

A: They have some of the conditions that are recognized as putting you at increased risk of severe disease when you get infected with the flu. They are conditions like diabetes, heart disease, neurologic conditions and asthma. People who have those conditions — and they are fairly common — have a greater risk of being hospitalized and even dying from exposure to this virus. Although a third or more of the people who are getting this virus — and may well die — don’t have any of those underlying health conditions, which is all the more reason for people to take this disease seriously.

Q: How does Kansas compare to other states in H1N1 illness and deaths?

A: It’s fairly uniform right now around the country in terms of being at unprecedented high levels in virtually every state and Kansas is no different. In the last couple of weeks, it appears that the incidence has dropped somewhat, but we’re still at levels above what we would expect — even at the peak of a winter flu season and this is only mid-November. So, we’ve still got a long way to go with this, and the sooner we can get more people immunized, the sooner we can turn this thing around.

Q: user gisele would like more information about the two doses involving children.

A: Children under the age of 10 appear to need two doses to get the same protection that an older person would get with a single dose in terms of the antibody response that’s been measured in thousands of people in clinic trials. So, our recommendation is that you get that second dose just to be sure that your child is fully protected.

Q: Will the children who need a second dose be able to get it? Don’t they need to get it within a month of the first one?

A: You don’t have to get it within a month. You can’t get the second dose less than three weeks after the first one because it won’t be helpful. But you can get it anytime after that and the recommendation is about four weeks if you can get it. If you have to wait five or six weeks, it will be just as good once you get it.

Q: Can people get sick with H1N1 more than once?

A: No. It can’t be true. If you’ve had H1N1 influenza this season, you are immune until potentially next season when it comes back and it’s slightly different and your body doesn’t recognize it. But, right now, the same virus you would have had a couple of months ago, you are immune to now.

Now, people think they’ve had this when perhaps they just had some other viral infection. So, none of us can be sure unless we are among the very few who are getting tested like hospitalized patients. It’s best to go ahead and get the vaccine even if you think you’ve had the disease.

Q: Can pets get the H1N1 virus from their owners?

A: Unless your pet is a pig, I wouldn’t worry about that.

Q: But, I’ve heard that a family gave the flu to their cats. Is this true

A: Really? Anything is possible with the flu, but I highly doubt it. You need to have a respiratory tract that’s similar to ours and believe it or not, pigs are about the closest thing to us that’s out there. A number of incidences have been reported around the world of humans infecting pigs. There’s no transmission the other way — from pigs to humans. So, there’s no reason to be afraid of pigs or any pig products. Pigs have more to fear from us and that would be the only animal that I would worry about getting infected.

Q: Is the H1N1 virus mutating and showing up in different forms

A: That’s being very, very carefully monitored around the world and occasionally there are some reports of subtle changes in the virus. But actually that’s normal flu viruses do normally, and this one — thankfully, knock on wood — is remarkably stable. The genetic makeup of this virus hasn’t changed very much at all from last spring. That’s good news, but we can expect that it will change — maybe not become any more or less severe — but that it will change over the course of the next year. Next winter, we will have to get immunized against it again with a new vaccine. That’s looking into the future, but that’s what we full aspect.

Q: What’s going on with the testing? user GardenMomma said different doctors have given her different advice on how long a test might take and the costs associated with testing.

A: There’s only one definitive, certified test to determine if the particular virus that is infecting you is the H1N1 influenza 2009 variety and that’s only available through the state public health lab. Because of the very limited capacity that’s available to do that testing, only persons who are hospitalized and people whose providers are participating in a surveillance system, where we are measuring the incidence of disease in places around the state, can get the test. So, except for those few people, a test for H1N1 flu isn’t available.

What (GardenMomma) is probably talking about is an in-office test that’s called a rapid influenza A test, which if you perform it in the office and it’s positive, then you’ve got A type of influenza. Right now, it is almost definitely the pandemic strain because that’s all that there is that we know about.

But, the test isn’t very sensitive, so if you have a negative test but you have all of the symptoms of the flu, you may still have this infection. So, the testing isn’t very good.

Q: According to the GardenMomma, doctors gave her different prices and lengths of time the test would take. Why is that?

A: There may well be private labs that have noncertified tests because there’s obviously a market out there. I know that one hospital in Wichita is using the same process to test their own patients, but it isn’t certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Q: What should people do if they get sick?

A: Stay home until at least 24 hours after their fever resolves, so that the chances that they can affect others is lower. It is possible, especially with these little kids, to shed virus a long time after they are well. So, we can’t be certain. But, it’s a fair balance to say the risk of you infecting somebody else is a lot lower if you wait those 24 hours. You may feel wonderful and want to get right back to work, but wait another day and preferably the weekend and then go back.

Q: user chocolateplease asks, have there been adverse reactions to the vaccine?

A: When you are talking about immunizing virtually the entire population of the United States, bad things are going to happen — even to some of these people who get immunized this evening. They will go out these doors and something is going to happen. Now, the question is, “Is it related to the vaccine or is that something that was going to happen anyway.’

Say, 50 people a day in Kansas have a heart attack. Inevitably, one of those people are going to have come in and got an H1N1 vaccine.

There’s hundreds of women who have miscarriages and we are trying to get all of these pregnant women immunized. Inevitably, we’ve probably already had miscarriages right after vaccinations, so these things will happen.

So, we are very carefully collecting all of those events. I was shown a list of them yesterday and none of them looked too serious that were from Kansas. But we are looking to see if there’s a pattern, to see if there’s something occurring at a rate higher than we would expect in the background or to see if there’s something that’s just really weird that keeps turning up in states all over the place.

Those are the signals that something is going on. If it is, these people are going to be studied very carefully and if there’s any chance it’s related to the vaccine, everything you see here will cease overnight.

We don’t expect that to happen because this is essentially the same vaccine as we’ve given every year. They’ve just changed the antigen — the protein that’s stimulating the immune response. Everything else — the way the vaccine is made, where it is made, the process it goes though — is exactly the same and hundreds of millions of people have gotten the seasonal flu vaccine every year for decades without any serious problems. So, the chances that anything really strange is going to come up is negligible.

There’s 5 percent of the population that won’t believe anything that I just said and in some communities it’s up to 10 percent, but it’s their choice.

Q: Is it true that children are having more severe and life-threatening reactions to the H1N1 vaccine compared to the seasonal flu vaccine?

A: No. All we are possibly talking about for those getting the shot, is some redness and soreness and swelling for a couple of days at the site of the injection or possibly a runny nose from those getting the spray or maybe a headache or kind of achy feeling for a day or two. That’s common enough that it probably is a mild reaction that some people get it — I believe that. But in terms of serious reactions — no.


ladysilk 8 years, 5 months ago

Dear Lawrence, If you are not in one of the indicated priority groups please do not come to the clinic and try to pass yourself off as a priority group person. You are taking vaccine away from someone who really needs it and the clinic workers are not stupid...they know you are lying.


ralphralph 8 years, 5 months ago

Dem's strategy ... Step 1 - Create a panic by overstating risk of natural situation. Step 2 - Convince people you are the only ones who can "save" them. Step 3 - Fail miserably in your response ... oops!

Didn't they watch how Bubba did it?
Bubba Step 1 - Lower expectations. Bubba Step 2 - Exceed those lowered expectations. That's how you get chicks ... er, votes.

Sigmund 8 years, 5 months ago

ladysilk (Anonymous) says… "Dear Lawrence, If you are not in one of the indicated priority groups please do not come to the clinic and try to pass yourself off as a priority group person."

Are you suggesting that any clinics in Lawrence actually have the vaccine?

Kris_H 8 years, 5 months ago

Re that picture:

For the love of the deity of your choice, do NOT let a physician give you an injection! Get an RN or an LPN or anybody but the doc! They are the absolute worst at it.

Especially a doctor who's really an administrator...yikes. :D

greenvera 8 years, 5 months ago

I am really sick of hearing health practitioners say that these vaccines are completely normal. Sick. I know two families who have children who had severe reactions to H1N1 vaccine, crying inconsolably for days afterward and erratic behavior never seen before apart from an all over body rash. Their peds know full well that these symptoms are caused by the vaccine and have told both of them, separate peds, separate families, that their child must have contracted the regular flu and these are the symptoms of that. Both sets of parents asked the ped for a test to make sure that it is the flu and not an adverse reaction and both peds diverted around the question and eventually told them that there was nothing they could do. So what they are saying is that these children who's symptoms appeared within hours of the vaccine, simply have the flu, something they have had before and something that both families know they are not witnessing. They have never seen their children like this, and they have had the seasonal flu before. When the children do not have the symptoms of the seasonal flu and clearly have symptoms of toxicity, why are doctors telling them it is something that it clearly is not. No wonder the statistics are low about adverse reactions, the doctors are covering them up.

I also know a woman who miscarried within two hours of getting the vaccine. So I loooked up some info online. 1. the label on the vaccine says it has not been tested for pregnant women or children.

and stories are beginning to pour in about miscarriages after the vaccine...

probably having something to do with these toxic ingredients. can't possible be good for a fetus:

and here is a video from 1976 about those vaccines.


Sharon Aikins 8 years, 5 months ago

The naysayers are just as dangerous as those telling us to get the shots. They read a few articles written by questionable sources but saying what they want to hear and pass the word on. Yes, there was Guillain-Barre in 1976 associated with the vaccine. That has not happened since and is not happening now. The only person I ever knew who had it got it after recovering from a simple cold. You can blow fear from the left and the right. Just be sure you are qualified to blow at all. No, I'm not having the shot but I would get one for my son whose immune system is compromised and might not survive a simple flu. With any vaccine, there will be some people who have adverse reactions while there will be many times more of those who don't. Make up your own mind. I've even read here that this virus was manufactured to provide income to the drug companies. Is it true? Just because someone says it doesn't make it true, as in all things. Use your common sense, research wisely, not just the alarmists and then do what you feel is right for you and your family.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 5 months ago

"Use your common sense....." Sadly, when the Internet got popular, what was left of that skill eroded rapidly. Medicine and inoculations are always a slight risk. The hysteria concerning the topic is, however, unwarranted.

kmat 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't trust what this guy is saying about pets not getting the virus. They are! Iowa Dept of Health has confirmed a cat living with two people with the virus has now gotten the virus. It has been confirmed it was a human to feline transmission. People have also transmitted the virus to pet ferrets (outbreak in Oregon).

Pretty scary that this guy is a State Health Officer and he isn't up to date on what the virus is doing.

There isn't much fear of it spreading from house pets to humans, but those of us that have pets sure don't want them to become ill. So, if your pets are acting ill, take them to the vet. Especially if you've had flu symptoms. Many people don't realize that pets don't cough and sneeze like people do. If your pet isn't eating normal, acts lethargic, etc... they are sick.

rivercitymom 8 years, 5 months ago

I saw a lot of people in the H1N1 vaccination line yesterday, including the children of most of our family's medical professionals.

Is the science of vaccinations perfect? No. But it is some of the best science we have and it has saved many, many lives. If you don't want to vaccinate your kids or yourselves, then don't, but don't pretend SCIENCE is on your side on this one, because it isn't. But, lucky for you, if you or your child ends up in the hospital on a ventilator, science/medicine might be your saviour then.

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 5 months ago

If you don't want your child to be vaccinated, fine, but don't try to badger other people into not getting the vaccine. Flu is one of the worst illnesses a person can get. I'm talking about honest-to-goodness flu, not the stomach bugs that people think are the flu. I am young and very healthy, and had a flu a couple of years ago that knocked me on my butt. It was the sickest I think I've ever been. I thought I had pneumonia or some serious infection so I went to the doctor and he was like, "This is the flu, not anything more serious. Haven't you ever had the flu before?" I really thought I was going to die, but was so sick I didn't care. I would hate to see what a bad bout of the flu would be like. I have been vaccinated, along with my child ever since then. I've also gotten him the H1N1 vaccine because I can't stand to think about him being that sick. I understand how people die from this disease. Yes, there are risks to vaccines and even aspirin, but I think the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the almost certain complications of flu.

greenvera 8 years, 5 months ago

My family and I are immunocompromised and it wasn't until we started doing our own research and questioning our doctor, that our health started to get better. Vaccines are not the answer, taking care of your immune system is. I am not a naysayer but instead, I am concerned about the many people who are beginning to get reactions to the vaccine and medical professionals are failing to state this very fact. My family has been through a lot of health crisis through which western medicine has saved our lives and almost killed us. We believe in doing your own research AND listening to the stories of other people, on blogs and around the country. Before you give your children and yourselves the flu vaccine ask yourself if you have even done the following in the below article. Choosing a healthy lifestyle over medical immunity is just as wise as getting a vaccine and provides no ill side effects or long term damage:

greenvera 8 years, 5 months ago

I certainly understand that there are some cases where it is important to get the vaccine. Yes, vaccine over illness. However, while becoming medically immune to something would be better than getting ill, wouldn't taking care of your immune system naturally be better than the vaccine, especially in light of the many complaints? It's wonderful that there have been so many people who have not had a reaction to the vaccines, but these fortunate people do not have the right to tell those who have had reactions to vaccinations or other medical mistakes that they are wrong. You haven't been effected by autism or seizures or death or behavioral disorders or cancer caused by medical problems. Many people have and their stories are legitimate and not rare. In this country, it is as though you have to wait to have it happen to you before you understand it completely. And eventually it will happen to all of us. Eventually we will all understand that we are the only ones who can truly be in charge of our health, and it all starts with early education and preventative healthcare.

rivercitymom 8 years, 5 months ago

Like I said, you will be thankful that western medicine is on your side if you or a loved one ends up in the hospital with the flu on a vent. Vaccinations are some of the best SCIENCE we have. Seasonal flu shots and the H1N1 vaccine are based on SCIENCE that has been born out by decades of research. If I had immunocompromised kids I would have them at the front of the line for the flu shot every year and the H1N1 shot this year.

Of course we try to eat well, exercise and get enough rest at our house, but you can't count on everyone else to do those things, so unless you live in a bubble all of those behaviors do not fully protect you.

Check out this clip that includes the 15-year-old Arkansas boy fighting for his life (17 days on a ventilator), from a 60 Minutes report recently. It isn't pretty. Says H1N1 felt like someone had lobbed a cannonball at his chest. And he was a healthy kid, none of the risk factors. Also some good 60 Minutes reporting on how the vaccine is made, etc.

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