Carbon officials discuss flu clinic
Chris Parker/Times News Nurse Stacy Scheckler gives a flu shot to Vanessa Teado during the recent drive-through flu shot administered by Blue Mountain Health System, Gnaden Huetten Campus, at the Lehighton Fire Department. On Thursday, Carbon County officials said they are working on a plan for a mass immunization, much like these free clinics that have been held around the area in recent weeks.
Carbon County officials are hoping to provide area residents with the option to get the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine if and when it becomes available to the county.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the commissioners announced that they are working with Mark Nalesnik, director of the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, and the state Department of Health to obtain thousands of doses of the vaccine to distribute to the community.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said the plan they are working on is to complete a mass immunization in a few-day time period.
To do this, he explained, they are working to find suitable locations to hold free vaccination clinics, much like the free seasonal flu vaccination clinics that have been held around the county in recent weeks. No dates for these clinics have been determined at this time.
Nothstein added that the county hopes to immunize "14,000 to 15,000" during one clinic, but that figure will change based upon the number of doses the county is given.
Commissioner William O'Gurek said that Carbon County wants to do this to help its residents, but currently has no idea when they will receive notification from the state saying if the county has been approved to be a recipient of the vaccines.
The county's nursing and rehabilitation center, Weatherwood, has also applied for the H1N1 vaccines for its staff members.
Randall Smith, county administrator, said the county weighed its options to see how the facility would be able to operate if there were numerous staff members absent. It was then decided to try to obtain the vaccines.
Right now, Smith said, "everything is up in limbo" and they're not sure if they will be approved as a recipient.
This is just one of the many plans area organizations are coming up with to combat against a potential pandemic.
Some school districts have also discussed the possibility of administering the vaccines to students, as well as started promoting better hygiene practices, such as coughing into a tissue and washing your hands frequently.
To date, there are 42 confirmed cases of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in Carbon County, O'Gurek said during the meeting.
The H1N1 flu virus has been a major concern in the country since April.
During that time, hundreds of cases across America were reported and medical personnel began working at developing a vaccine against the strain.
Individuals who would most likely be affected by the virus include children up to the age of 24, pregnant women, and adults under 65 years old and who have medical conditions.
To combat against contracting the virus, federal officials advise everyone to take the following actions: wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap when in public places; get plenty of sleep; be physically active; eat a nutritious diet; drink plenty of fluids; and manage stress.
They also recommend coughing or sneezing into the bend of your elbow or a tissue; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
If anyone has symptoms of the flu virus, which include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, officials recommend seeking medical attention and staying home from school, work and other activities.
In a related matter, O'Gurek said the commissioners have made arrangements with Blue Cross for flu shots for county employees.