Epidemic level of illness in Cache County

Cache County is at what you might call an epidemic level with a lot of flu-like illness in the community, according to Keith Larsen of the Bear River Health Department. Larsen told the Cache County Council last night the area is in the middle of an intense flu experience and the hospitals are taxed, the medical community is taxed and there are a lot of sick kids in school. Larsen says it has been frustrating because the vaccine has been arriving in limited quantities. He says the public has been patient and cooperative. Fortunately, Larsen said, another batch of H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive soon, perhaps even today. Larsen told the council that the health department is ready to administer much more vaccine than the limited amount that has been received. He says the staff is in place, extra medical and clerical help has been hired and there is plenty of help from the community.”The problem is that we don’t have the vaccine in the numbers we want or need to get out at this time,” Larsen said. “By this time we were hoping to have around 30,000 doses. We’ve received about 7,500. So it’s been in very short supply. The good news is that we heard some information today that that is possibly going to turn very quickly.”Lloyd Berentzen, the health department’s director, told the council the problem is with the manufacturer of the vaccine. Berentzen said the vaccine takes about six months to make. He also said it looks like most production problems have been taken care of.Larsen says the message to the community continues to be wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home when you are sick. Larsen says you can see the scope of the problem by the fact that each year the Bear River Health Department goes through approximately 8,000 doses of flu vaccine. This year, with the added H1N1 flu responsibility, the department is expected to distribute about 80,000 doses by the end of the flu season.

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