Benton, Linn health officials say ample vaccine available
Like other parts of the country, the flu season has started a little early in the mid-valley but is far from an epidemic, according to staff at the Benton and Linn county departments of public health.
Health officials are pointing to a recurrence of the H1N1 flu strain, the same strain that reached pandemic proportions in 2009.
H1N1 flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue and possibly vomiting and diarrhea.
But the four main types of influenza vaccines this year include protection from H1N1.
Charlie Fautin, administrator of the Benton County Public Health Department, said he has been in contact with staff from area hospitals and Oregon State University regarding the flu, and “everyone is seeing it.”
“It’s definitely starting to crop up,” Fautin said. “We’re seeing it in our clinics as well. We assume things are going to get worse once people get back from their travels and back into classes behind closed doors at the university. Things will start to spread.”
Fautin said Benton County Health Services has given more than 1,250 flu vaccinations this season, including county staff members.
“We have plenty of vaccine remaining,” Fautin said. “People can call 541-766-6835 for an appointment.”
Fautin said he has checked with local pharmacies and medical clinics and there “seems to be a good stock on hand.”
Fautin emphasizes that it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
“It takes a few days after vaccination to get the full effect, so we would encourage people to get their shot now,” Fautin said.
Debby Uri of the Linn County Health Department said it has provided 600 to 700 vaccinations thus far this year. The flu, she added, is “showing up a little early. We usually see it start to ramp up in late January or early February.”
Uri said H1N1 can be especially prevalent among young adults, children and people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.
Karyn Walker, Linn County immunization coordinator, said vaccination clinics have been held at soup kitchens in Albany, Sweet Home and Lebanon and at the Helping Hands Shelter.
The county also is working with the InReach program of Samaritan Health Services.
Linn County has about 250 doses available at low cost for people who do not have private insurance or the Oregon Health Plan. Call 541-967-3888 to make an appointment.
Walker said the county can get more vaccine if needed.