Nationally, concern about the risks of contracting Swine Flu, or the H1N1 influenza strain, have reached peak levels, as we head into the prime flu season in New England. Making matters worse is the fact that appropriate levels of flu vaccine for the H1N1 have not even arrived in Massachusetts yet.
Meanwhile, many citizens have not even had their annual seasonal flu vaccine yet, and for the moment that is what local health officials are concerning themselves with.
According to Paul Clayton of the Winthrop Inspectional Services Department, the Winthrop Board of Health, with the help of the local fire department and the Winthrop Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), will conduct a seasonal flu clinic for residents aged 55 and older on Saturday, November 14 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Cummings Elementary School on Pauline Street.
â€œThose attending the clinic should park in the parking lot at the rear of the school and enter through main entrance there,â€ said Clayton earlier this week. â€œWe are also asking that all residents who do show up to receive a flu shot, be able to provide some proof of residency and insurance information.â€
The clinic itself will be conducted by members of Winthropâ€™s Medical Reserve Corps, which volunteers to be ready in cases of emergencies or natural disasters to provide medical care and response.
According to the health department, there are currently no plans to conduct an H1N1 flu clinic, because the town has not yet received its allotment of H1N1 vaccine.
However, the town has received the supplies needed to conduct an appropriate H1N1 clinic, a flu clinic will be scheduled and publicized through local media outlets.
In the meantime, public health officials have warned that it is still important to receive a vaccine for the annual seasonal flu, especially for those in higher risk categories.
Older residents, small children and pregnant or nursing mothers are all considered in higher risk categories for the seasonal flu, as are those who have other medical conditions that make them more susceptible to seasonal flu.
Public health officials have also stressed that all citizens should practice a few basic cautions to reduce their risk of exposure to all forms of influenza.
1) Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the sleeve of oneâ€™s shirt
2) Maintain a respectful distance from strangers in public places
3) Always wash hands in public restrooms or use waterless sanitizer and be sure to use sanitizer after using public conveniences such as a payphone
4) If you feel ill, stay home and avoid brining your symptoms to work or other public places.