Warren County battles H1N1

Warren County battles H1N1

by Hannah PickettStaff Writer

“Swine Flu” turned “H1N1” has become a commonly coined household medical condition in 2009. The strain of influenza has hit the Midwest hard, starting in the spring and peaking this fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Because of the outbreak throughout the country, only individuals who are hospitalized are being tested for H1N1.

Warren County Public Health Administration hosted a two-day H1N1 public health clinic at the Indianola Middle School last week, immunizing over 1,000 people with either the H1N1 shot or the H1N1 nasal mist.

“More people are skeptical of the mist because it’s so new and it has a live virus in it where the shot is a deadened form of the virus,” Jodene DeVault, Warren County Public Health administrator, said.

Lisa Carponelli, assistant professor of communication studies, had her young family immunized right away because of her five-month-old infant daughter. Carponelli’s oldest daughter is three years old and received the H1N1 shot, as did Carponelli and her husband. One week after the toddler received the H1N1 shot, she came down with flu-like symptoms that lasted 10 days.

“She had a fever over 103 at times,” Carponelli said. “The biggest thing was to keep the baby away from the germs. It was scary.”

Carponelli says her daughter’s pediatrician is confident that the toddler’s flu-symptoms had nothing to do with her immunization. The pediatrician told Carponelli’s family that the toddler had been exposed to the flu before becoming immunized which caused her to come down with flu symptoms.

“It takes 10-14 days for the immunization to start working in your system, whichever path you take-shot or mist-it’s the same,” DeVault said. “But neither the shot or the mist will make you sick.”

The clinic was open to the community and Simpson students.

“We highly encourage all students to get the H1N1 vaccination, especially if they fall into the high risk categories, as many of our students do,” Rita Audlehelm, director of Student Health Services, said. “The outbreak of flu symptoms is much less than it was earlier this fall, but we still are seeing some, and there was at least one confirmed case of H1N1 on campus this year.”

Some students are following Audlehelm’s advice. But others aren’t as concerned.

“I haven’t gotten the shot, and I probably won’t,” senior Miranda Pham said. “I’m just not too worried about it anymore.”

In addition to the public health clinic, Simpson College is increasing health awareness with a forum featuring Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director and state epidemiologist for the Iowa Department of Public Health tonight. She will discuss public health issues facing Iowans.

If students missed out on the vaccination clinic last week, they can still get immunized at the Department of Public Health office at any time if they meet at least one of the criteria: be from six months old through 24 years old, a health care worker, a household contact or caregiver of an infant younger than six months old, be from the ages of 25-64 years old with a chronic medical condition or a weakened immune system, or are pregnant.

For information about when and where H1N1 clinics are scheduled and eligibility status, call the Flu Information line at the Warren County Department of Public Health office.