WILKES-BARRE – Because of a limited vaccine supply, the city had to restrict its flu clinic Monday and set up another one Friday for the general public.
Due to a delivery delay of the flu vaccine, the city Health Department administered vaccines to children under 3 and senior citizens 65 and older. The Health Department said vaccine from Tennessee did not arrive in time.
We're told the vaccine will be here Tuesday (today), said Ted Kross, the city's health director.
Kross said children receive about half the normal dosage and senior citizens require a higher dosage – four times the antigen – because immune systems weaken as people age. He said the higher dosage elicits a stronger immune response.
Kross also released new statistics on the flu virus:
• According to the Bureau of Epidemiology, flu-related emergency-room visits were elevated in most regions of the state last week, particularly in the eastern half.
• 11,327 flu cases have been reported this season.
• 971 flu-related hospitalizations have been reported. A majority were reported in older persons; median age 69.
• 22 flu-related deaths have been reported; median age 60.
• 82 outbreaks of influenza-like illnesses have been reported in long-term-care facilities.
According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu season nationwide began earlier this year and is more severe than in previous years.
Kross said health officials recommend anyone with flu symptoms should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. Common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and diarrhea and/or vomiting.
In addition to young children and senior citizens, those at high risk include pregnant women and people with certain long-term medical conditions (such as asthma or heart disease).
Health-care providers will determine whether flu testing and possible treatment are needed, Kross said. They can also prescribe antiviral drugs to treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started.
Kross said health officials say only the very ill should use hospital emergency rooms, to prevent further transmission of the virus, Kross said. He said flu symptoms can be treated with and without medication. Over-the-counter medications might relieve some symptoms but will not make you less contagious, Kross said. Health-care providers might prescribe antiviral medications .
Other remedies include:
• Antibiotics if flu has progressed to a bacterial infection.
• Plenty of rest.
• Drinking of clear fluids such as water, broth, sports drinks or electrolyte beverages to prevent dehydration.
• A cool, damp washcloth on the forehead, arms and legs can reduce discomfort associated with a fever.
• A bedroom humidifier can make breathing easier.
• Gargling with salt water can soothe a sore throat.
• Covering up with a warm blanket can calm chills.
• Flu clinic hours for all ages on Friday are 1 to 4 p.m. at the Kirby Health Center, 71 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre.
• For more information, call the Health Department at 208-4268.