About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star
Flu level in Virginia at all-time high
Dr. Karen Remley, state health commissioner, said this afternoon that the incidence of the H1N1 virus is on the rise in Virginia, and that it’s unlikely that any significant quantity of vaccine will arrive soon.
Remley, speaking from Richmond, told a phone press conference that the percentage of emergency room and urgent care visits in Virginia for suspected flu is now at 14.2 percent, an all-time high. That number reached 7 percent in the last two flu seasons, she said. She also said that based on the experience of other states, Virginia may be in the “middle of the epidemic curve.” If so, the numbers may soon start to decline.
Virginia has received fewer than 400,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine to date. Sixty percent of the vaccine is the injectable kind, and the rest is the nasal mist. Because of problems in the manufacturing process, the vaccine has been delayed and probably will not be available until mid-November for those in the general population. Until then, all available vaccine will go to those in one of the high-priority groups, she said.
Remley also said she has changed the way she greets people. “I don’t shake hands with people unless I can wash my hands quickly,” she said. “I prefer to smile and say hello. I encourage people not to be huggin’ people and kissin’ a lot on strangers.”
(The photo above is from today’s drive-through, flu-shot clinic at Stafford Airport. Andrew Robinson Jr. receives a flu shot from Dr. Lou Massad and his wife Jay Massad.)