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H1N1 Flu Virus Still Active In Tennessee

Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Health, March 23, 2010:

Local Flu Activity Prompts Reminder to Get Vaccinated

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Health continues its efforts to ensure the health of state residents as cases of H1N1 flu are still affecting some pockets of the state. Though flu activity has declined since late October, recent activity across Tennessee should encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get the H1N1 flu vaccine to protect themselves and their communities.

“The flu season is not over. Recent cases of severe illness and death serve as an important reminder that the flu virus can be serious,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “Flu activity caused by either H1N1 or seasonal flu viruses may rise and fall, but we continue to encourage Tennesseans to take advantage of the ample availability and opportunities to get vaccinated.”

The flu virus is unpredictable. On average, flu complications result in more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in the United States each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors H1N1 and other influenza activity levels and trends through a nationwide surveillance system. Recent reports estimate that the H1N1 flu has contributed to an average of 59 million cases of the virus, approximately 265,000 H1N1-related hospitalizations, and as many as 17,000 related deaths between April 2009 and mid-February 2010 in the United States.

“The H1N1 flu virus has caused substantial outbreaks of disease outside of the normal influenza seasons,” said State Epidemiologist Tim F. Jones, MD. “Our surveillance systems show that the virus is still active in Tennessee and could continue to cause local outbreaks for weeks or months. The best protection against this is vaccination.”

H1N1 flu vaccine is widely available throughout Tennessee to anyone who wishes to receive it, and it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine this season. To get information about vaccine availability, contact your health care provider or your county health department. H1N1 flu vaccine is still being offered at no cost to patients at county health department clinics across the state. Additionally, retail locations are offering the vaccine for a fee. Visit the TDOH Flu Shot Locator online at http://health.state.tn.us/fluclinic/default.aspx to find a location near you.

The Tennessee Department of Health continues to distribute flu prevention posters free of charge to businesses, government agencies and the public encouraging residents to get vaccinated, practice respiratory etiquette and stay home when sick. “What do you do to prevent the flu?” posters are readily available for pick-up at local county health departments for distribution and display at public locations throughout the community.

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Press Releases

Tennessee Received 11,210 Doses of Recalled H1N1 Flu Vaccine

State of Tennessee Press Release, Dec. 16, 2009:

Non-safety Related Recall of Vaccine Product for Children

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health has determined that health providers in the state received 11,210 doses of H1N1 flu vaccine now impacted by a voluntary, non-safety related recall. Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., is recalling four lots of H1N1 vaccine in 0.25 ml pre-filled syringes designed for use in children ages 6 to 35 months. These lots passed all tests for potency and purity when they were distributed, but routine follow-up tests after distribution found that levels of antigen, the active ingredient, were slightly lower than the level specified on the label. The recall is not related to any safety or effectiveness concerns.

Tennessee received only 1.4 percent of the Sanofi vaccine impacted by the recall, and these doses represent only 0.6 percent of all H1N1 flu vaccine distributed in Tennessee.

“Tennessee health providers who registered to offer H1N1 vaccine have been informed about the recall, and know they are to set aside any doses they received from the recalled lots,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “There are other vaccine products available for use for young children, so we don’t anticipate a significant impact on supply of vaccine for that age group.”

The lot numbers of vaccine included in the recall are: UT023DA, UT028DA, UT028CB and UT030CA. Some 800,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine are included in these lots. The Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to inform providers who received affected lots on instructions from Sanofi Pasteur for returning unused doses to the company.

No action is required by parents with children between the ages of 6 to 35 months who may have received H1N1 flu vaccine in the form of a pre-filled syringe from Sanofi Pasteur. The doses are considered safe and effective; revaccination is not recommended. Parents with questions may contact their child’s health provider, or call the Tennessee Flu Information line toll-free at 1-877-252-3432.

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Health Care Liberty and Justice News

Committee Taking Up H1N1 Vaccine Rule

The Joint Government Operations Committee is reviewing a plan today to let paramedics administer H1N1 flu vaccines.

The measure allows emergency medical personnel (pdf) to issue the flu shots at mass vaccinations in an effort to curb spread of the flu while keeping other public health personnel, like doctors and nurses, from getting sick.

The H1N1 rule is one of thirty up for approval before the  committee today.

Rules are not laws. Rather, they dictate how laws are enforced.

The H1N1 rule went into effect in late October, although it still needs to be OK’d by the committee and the General Assembly. Other rules will go into effect in January or as late as March.

Some rules are more routine, such as a rule up for approval today bridging the gap between old and new regulations for assisted care living facilities.

Others are more urgent, according to officials, and require immediate enactment. These rules are effective immediately after filing but will expire after 180 days.

The committee meets today at 10:30 a.m.