County to distribute H1N1 vaccine

The Wayne County Department of Public Health has received both the H1N1 nasal mist and the injectable vaccine.

The nasal mist will not be distributed to the general public; it will be supplied only to emergency preparedness and health professionals.

The H1N1 vaccine will be offered free through the county’s Wayne, Taylor and Redford clinics and eight community flu vaccination clinics scheduled throughout Wayne County communities. The Health Department will notify the public of the dates, times and sites for those clinics.

The H1N1 vaccine, by injection, is recommended for five groups targeted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Pregnant women.
• People who live with or provide care for children younger than 6 months of age.
• Individuals 6 months to 24 years of age.
• Adults 25 to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions.
• Essential personnel (police, fire, etc.) and health care workers.

“Priority will be given to vaccinating the H1N1 at-risk groups according to CDC guidelines,” said Loretta Davis, director/health officer for the Health Department. She said the county’s vaccination plan is geared toward providing the vaccine to targeted groups first, in order to ensure there is an adequate supply.

“In addition to Wayne County offering the vaccine,” Davis said, “distribution strategies to provide H1N1 vaccinations to residents will include utilizing clinical community partner agencies such as private physicians; health systems and pharmacies; community-based health organizations like federally-qualified health centers; and supporting schools and school districts which identify a need to open school-based vaccination clinics.”

In anticipation of receiving the H1N1 flu vaccine, department members have been meeting weekly since July as part of a steering committee designed to develop, test and solidify a strategic plan to administer the vaccine to Wayne County residents this fall and winter. The committee consists of public health and emergency management specialists who officials say are working diligently with community partners to ensure that an effective distribution plan is in place.

“We are confident that through these planning sessions, in addition to hosting annual seasonal flu clinics and participating in ongoing emergency preparedness exercises, our public health team is well prepared for the 2009-10 H1N1 vaccination season,” County Executive Robert Ficano said. “Wayne County is prepared to roll out its vaccination plan, and encourages individuals in the at-risk targeted H1N1 groups to receive the shot as early as possible to protect themselves and their families this flu season.”

In September county public health clinics began offering the seasonal flu vaccine earlier than usual in preparation for arrival of the H1N1 vaccine. Officials also held a community seasonal flu clinic in Ecorse on Oct. 3 that served as a practice drill for H1N1 mass vaccinations. Approximately 200 residents received flu shots that day. To date, more than 2,500 residents have received the seasonal flu vaccine.

Medical experts advise that certain individuals should not or cannot get flu shots. They include:
• People allergic to eggs or the flu vaccine.
• Those who had a serious reaction to flu vaccine in the past
• Those who have previously developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of getting a flu shot.
• Those who have a fever.

Public Health Department officials will announce additional information concerning the H1N1 vaccine and post community flu clinic locations on the department’s Web site.

Meanwhile, county officials continue to stress preventive measures, such as proper hand washing and proper cough and sneeze etiquette, to prevent the spread of seasonal and H1N1 flu. The county executive also kicked off a Wayne County Wash Your Hands public awareness campaign in September to encourage residents to practice proper hand washing.

As part of the public awareness outreach, Wayne County Wash Your Hands decals outlining the proper way to wash one’s hands have been distributed to county schools; more than 5,000 restaurants and businesses; the Detroit-Wayne County Metropolitan Airport; and county facilities for placement in employee and public restrooms.

Business establishments frequented by the public who have not received a decal can call (734) 727-7400 for a free decal.

A countywide seasonal and H1N1 flu prevention campaign also has been launched, with billboards illustrating the importance of proper hand washing. Billboards now are displayed in 15 Wayne County communities, ranging from Highland Park to River Rouge.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of disease prevention measures that everyone can follow when it comes to preventing the spread of flulike viruses,” said Ficano.

Flu prevention guidelines include:
• Individuals with respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, chills, headaches, body aches or diarrhea and vomiting, should see their doctor.
• Sick individuals should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading possible infections.
• Avoid contact with people who cough or appear ill, and cover one’s mouth or nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; dispose of the tissue in the trash following use.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
• Frequent hand washing with soap and water and/or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) is encouraged and important to prevent and lessen the spread of illness.
• Keeping a safe distance from all people you come in contact with, a behavior called social distancing.

For more information concerning seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccinations, call the Wayne County Department of Public Health at (734) 727-7000, its 24-hour flu information line at (734) 727-7163, or go to and click on the link for H1N1/Seasonal Flu information.

The Department of Public Health is a division of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.