Governor Doyle Column:
Wisconsin has a lot of good news in our efforts to protect the public from H1N1 Influenza. First, H1N1 vaccine has become more plentiful. We know that vaccine is one of the most successful tools in protecting the health of people in our state. When our vaccine supplies were more limited, Wisconsin’s health care providers reached out to people with underlying health conditions, which make them more at-risk for influenza complications.
Now, with a larger vaccine supply, Wisconsin has returned to the original target groups recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone who falls into one of the following categories should get an H1N1 vaccination:
- Pregnant women;
- Persons who live with or provide care for infants age 6 months or younger such as parents, siblings and daycare providers;
- Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel;
- All people from 6 months through 24 years of age; and Persons 25-64 years of age with conditions associated with higher risk of complications from influenza.
Some other good news is that the spread of H1N1 in Wisconsin appears to be slowing. This does not mean, however, that the threat is over. Because flu viruses are unpredictable, it’s possible we could see another wave of infections in the coming months. That means it is important for people to be able to recognize H1N1 and take steps to protect themselves and loved ones.
Take these steps to prevent the spread of H1N1:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.
- Stay home when you are sick. Cover your coughs and sneezes – use a tissue or cough into your elbow. Do not cough or sneeze into your hands, since we sometimes touch other people or surfaces with our hands.
- Stay healthy – eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise.
H1N1 flu is a respiratory disease caused by the 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus. This virus was called “swine flu” at first, because it is like a virus that can sometimes infect pigs.
H1N1 flu spreads in the same way as the regular (seasonal) flu – through coughing and sneezing. The virus can also be spread through contact with surfaces recently touched by infected people.
People with H1N1 can infect others starting from one day before their own symptoms begin to show until a week after they become sick. People with H1N1 should stay home until 24 hours after they no longer have a fever without using fever-reducing medicines, except to seek medical care.
You can call 2-1-1 to find out an H1N1 or seasonal influenza vaccine clinic nearest them. A “clinic finder” is also available online at http://pandemic.wisconsin.gov or http://www.wisconsinfluclinic.info.
Wisconsin has just rolled out a comprehensive, statewide public awareness campaign that urges people to get their families vaccinated. It can be viewed online at: http://pandemic.wisconsin.gov/section.asp?linkid=1626&locid=106
By working together, we can help stop the spread of H1N1 in Wisconsin.