NJ Health Officials Offer H1N1 Flu Update

STATE – The state Department of Health and Human Services reports that there is widespread influenza-like activity in New Jersey, which signifies there is flu activity in virtually every county in the state.

Officials reported one new H1N1 influenza-related death this week: a 52-year-old Bergen County female with underlying medication conditions. She was hospitalized on Nov. 16 and died on Dec. 9.


A total of 21 H1N1 deaths have been reported since Sept. 1, 2009. There were 18 deaths reported to the CDC during last spring’s H1N1 outbreak

Vaccine Availability:
As of Dec. 23, 2009, a total of 2,367,700 doses of H1N1 vaccine have been shipped to New Jersey. Vaccine has been ordered by more than 1,400 ship-to providers.

Voluntary Vaccine Recall:
There is a voluntary recall of Medimmune nasal spray recall. The recall is being conducted due to a slight decrease in potency of the vaccine. This decrease was found during the manufacturer’s quality assurance program conducted routinely to determine the potency of vaccines. There is no safety issue involved in the recall.

New Jersey received 182,600 doses of the recalled vaccine in October. Providers who received this vaccine will be contacted by the manufacturer regarding recall procedures.

It is not necessary for anyone who received the recalled vaccines to be re-vaccinated.

Irrespective of the recall, children under age 10 who received the first dose using nasal vaccine should still get the second dose.

The Department has posted CDC questions and answers on the recall, which is available at www.nj.gov/health/h1n1.

Vaccine for General Public:
Because of a significant increase of vaccine availability in New Jersey, the Department has recommended that providers offer H1N1 vaccine to the general public. Individuals of targeted groups who have not been vaccinated should do so immediately.

HIN1 Vaccine Target Groups:
Although New Jersey is now offering H1N1 vaccine to the general public, the Department continues to emphasize the importance of individuals in certain target groups receive the H1N1 vaccine as they are at higher risk to complications of H1N1. These groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age
  • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
  • All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
  • Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

Finding a flu shot:
The following tools may be helpful for New Jerseyans seeking an H1N1 flu shot:

  • The DHSS website has two flu shot locators to help individuals find public health clinics that are being planned and will be announced when vaccine is available, as well as to find clinics with scheduled dates.
  • Contact your physician, community health center, local pharmacy, local or county health department, hospital or school. Many doctors, health clinics and schools are providing vaccine to their patients and students, while local health departments, pharmacies and some hospitals are offering clinics to the public.
  • Call New Jersey’s H1N1 Information Hotline – 1-866-321-9571

Antiviral Medications:
The Department has entered into an agreement with all Walgreen stores and other retail pharmacies in the state to make available antiviral medications that will specifically be offered to uninsured and underinsured residents. The Department also has distributed antiviral medications to New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

Walgreens and other pharmacies will provide these medications with a valid prescription. Medications received from pharmacies will cost a small administration fee. Medications received from FQHCs will be free to the FQHCs uninsured patients.

State Public Call Center:
A state H1N1 information call center was activated on October 6. To date, the call center has received more than 30,000 calls from the general public, healthcare providers, and others. The overwhelming majority of the calls are regarding flu vaccine and vaccine clinic questions from the general public. The call center is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Call Center will close at 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve and will be closed all day on Christmas Day. The toll free number is 1-866-321-9571.

Hospital Visiting Restrictions:
Many New Jersey hospitals have restricted their visitation policy to help reduce the spread of illness. The restrictions do no allow individuals with influenza-like symptoms or those who are under 18 years of age.
The Department of Health and Senior Services supports this effort to reduce the spread of H1N1 influenza as well as other infectious diseases.

The Department’s H1N1 website (www.nj.gov/health/h1n1) is the source for up-to-date information on H1N1 influenza. The website also contains videos, public service announcements, press releases, posters and flyers. The website is updated frequently, so please visit daily for new information and links.

In addition, individuals can receive updated H1N1 information by following the DHSS on Twitter at http://twitter.com/FluNJ.

Stop the Spread:
There are certain prevention actions everyone can take to help slow the spread of H1N1 this fall and winter. These actions include common-sense measures to limit the spread of germs, including:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and then wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Get an H1N1 and seasonal vaccine.

Questions and Answers:
It looks like H1N1 is over.  Should people still get vaccinated?

In past flu pandemics, “waves” of activity have been observed over a year or so after a new flu virus appears, with each wave lasting 6-12 weeks.  The US experienced its first wave of 2009 H1N1 flu in the spring of 2009 and now the second wave appears to be winding down.  But additional waves of H1N1 may occur as well as outbreaks of seasonal flu.  Because the timing and spread of flu viruses are unpredictable, the CDC is continuing to recommend vaccination with seasonal flu vaccine and 2009 H1N1 vaccine for those people for whom it is recommended.

My child needed two doses of flu vaccine and was accidentally given a third dose of the same vaccine.  Is that a problem?

No. The child is not at an increased risk of side effects from the extra vaccine.  The extra vaccine is not likely to produce any added benefit but will not cause any harm.  As with all individuals who receive vaccines, the child should be observed for any of the side effects on the Vaccine Information Sheet.  Any adverse events should be reported to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) program, which has been set up to monitor vaccine safety.

Connect with NJTODAY.NET

Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!
Email ads@njtoday.net for advertising information Send stuff to NJTODAY.NET Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter Download this week's issue of NJTODAY.NET
Print Friendly, PDF & Email