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Flu vaccines ready and waiting

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GINA R. HEINE
September 24, 2010
— At this time last year, you couldn’t get away from hearing about swine flu.

Schools were closing, each flu-related death was big news and residents anxiously awaited the arrival of vaccines. The whole summer was spent planning for mass vaccination clinics in the area, which were delayed because of a vaccine shortage.


This year? Not so much.


Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) said we’re now the post-pandemic period and that “the new H1N1 virus has largely run its course.”


But that doesn’t mean you’re done hearing about H1N1.


Based on experience with past pandemics, WHO expects the H1N1 virus to become similar to a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come.


“We know it’s not going to go away,” said Janet Zoellner, public health nursing director at the Rock County Health Department.


But predicting which strains of flu will circulate always includes educated guess work.


“It’s always a bit of a mystery to know how a flu season is going to shape up,” Zoellner said.


This year people only need one flu vaccine because the H1N1 strain is included with two other seasonal strains in the regular flu vaccine.


Since people have been exposed to H1N1 and immunized against it, it is not anticipated to be as bad, said Dr. Keith Konkol, director of infectious diseases at Mercy Health System.


Flu season typically starts in early October and runs through the end of March or April, he said. Until doctors start seeing flu-like cases, nobody will know which strains will circulate, he said.


Mercy and the county health department already have started vaccinating residents.


The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone age 6 months and older receive the flu shot.


New this year is an adjusted vaccine for people ages 65 and older because those patients’ immune response is not as strong as younger patients, Konkol said. The high-dose flu vaccine contains three to four times as much influenza antigen to create a more robust reaction, Konkol said. It also can increase side effects such as a little more arm soreness, but nothing significant, he said.


Children younger than 9 might need two doses of the vaccine to boost their immunity if they didn’t get the H1N1 vaccine last year, Zoellner said.


Last year, suppliers couldn’t make the H1N1 vaccine fast enough. No shortage in vaccines is anticipated this year, officials say.


With the heightened awareness last year’s flu season brought, Zoellner is hoping for strong demand for the vaccine. Immunization is important not only for the individual but for the community, she said.


You can pass a viral illness on to someone else a couple days before you start having symptoms, she said.


“We are ready,” she said. “We’re ready for people to come and get their flu shots.”


Area flu clinics
Rock County Health Department clinics

Cost is $25 for adults, $5 for children 18 and younger. Pneumonia vaccines also are available for $50. These clinics are walk-in:


-- Beloit Senior Fair, Central Christian Church, 2460 E. Milwaukee Road, Beloit. 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5.


-- St. Johns Lutheran Church, 312 S. 3rd St., Evansville. 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5.


-- Scoville Apartments, 545 Public Ave., Beloit. 9-10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7.


-- Clinton Senior Center, 508 Front St., Clinton. 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7.


-- Riverview Heights Apartments, 930 N. Washington St., Janesville. 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Oct. 12.


-- Milton Gathering Place, 715 Campus St., Milton. 1-3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12.


-- Women’s Expo, Holiday Inn Express, 3100 Wellington Place, Janesville. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17.


-- Edgerton Public Library, 101 Albion St., Edgerton. 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19.


-- Janesville Senior Fair, Marshall Middle School, 20 S. Pontiac Drive, Janesville. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.


Appointments can be made at either of the Rock County Health Department offices for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays:


-- North Office, 3328 Highway 51 N., Janesville. Call (608) 757-5440.


-- South Office, 61 Eclipse Center, Beloit. Call (608) 364-2010.


Mercy Health System clinics

Cost is $25. Appointments are required unless otherwise noted.


-- Mercy Beloit Medical Center, 2825 Prairie Ave., Beloit. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, and 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. Call (608) 363-5500.


-- Mercy Brodhead Medical Center, 2310 First Center Ave., Brodhead. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, and Tuesday, Oct. 12. Call (608) 897-8664.


-- Mercy Edgerton Medical Center, 217 N. Main St., Edgerton. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29. Call (608) 884-9431.


-- Mercy Health Mall, 1010 N. Washington St., Janesville. Walk-ins only: 8 a.m.­4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7; 1:30­4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, Oct. 13­15; and 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23. Call (608) 755-7989.


-- Mercy Clinic East, 3524 E. Milwaukee St., Janesville. Walk-ins only: 9 a.m.­4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8. Call (608) 756-7100.


-- Mercy Milton Medical Center, 725 S. Janesville St., Milton. 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, and 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27. Call (608) 868-5800.


-- Mercy Clinic South, 849 Kellogg Ave., Janesville. 8 a.m.-noon, and 1-5 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 7 and 14; and 8 a.m.-noon, 1-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct 20. Call (608) 755-7960.



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