EDITORIAL: Flu Crisis Calls for Level Heads
Flu -- H1N1 and seasonal -- continues to spread like wildfire around the world. And as we move deeper and deeper into flu season, the short supply of necessary vaccines is doing nothing to assuage fears and frustrations.
Moore County is no exception to the vaccine shortage. A report in Friday's edition of The Pilot revealed that earlier this week, there weren't any vaccines available locally for either H1N1 or its almost forgotten sibling, the seasonal flu.
H1N1's explosion onto the world scene last spring forced drug manufacturers to focus most of their attention toward an H1N1 vaccine, slowing the production of the seasonal counterpart.
New Concerns Arise
Adding to flu concerns are two stories that developed as recently as Friday:
-- Reuters reported that health officials in Norway have discovered a mutation in the H1N1 virus that could cause more severe flu symptoms.
-- Much closer to home, The Associated Press reported that here in North Carolina, researchers have discovered four cases of swine flu that is resistant to Tamiflu -- a common antiviral drug used to treat flu symptoms. Any pathogen that builds up drug resistance is a cause for concern, but the timing of this one causes even greater jitters.
There's no question that these recent developments -- and an apparent lack of information on either vaccine's availability -- are not helping the situation at all. As far as the availability information, health officials clearly could do a better job in the communication department.
But on the larger stage, we can all take some comfort in the prompt and diligent response from the world's health agencies. To say that H1N1 came out of left field would be an understatement.
Yet in just a few months' time, these agencies have succeeded in identifying the virus and manufacturing a vaccine that has been, for the most part, readily available.
Good Response by Schools
Considering how the whole crisis came out of left field, we can also take pride in our local response to the flu threat. While vaccines have been hard to come by recently, Moore County health officials have done an admirable job of getting the H1N1 vaccine to those who need it most -- the "priority groups" identified by the Centers for Disease Control.
One of those priority groups is our schoolchildren. Kudos to the Moore County school system and Moore County Health Department for grabbing the bull by the horns early on and forming a flu "strike force" with orders to take a proactive stance on flu prevention and education.
Because of those efforts and other initiatives, Moore County students have been receiving the H1N1 vaccination for almost a month now.
In time, vaccine production will catch up to the demand. So have faith. Keep washing those hands and coughing into those elbows. And if you start feeling under the weather, do yourself and your coworkers a favor: Stay home.
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