The department said it administered all of its previous 4,800 nasal-spray doses of the H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine in the past two weeks. Initially, two million doses of vaccine were expected by the state health department by the end of October. However, delays in manufacturing prevented delivery of that amount.
Cobb & Douglas Public Health spokeswoman Darlene Foote said her department was told that volumes will increase over the next several weeks. As of Wednesday, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 443,200 doses of the H1N1 vaccine shipped to Georgia and 16,870,000 doses nationwide.
To date, there have been about 34 H1N1-releated hospitalized cases in Cobb and Douglas counties, said Foote. Four people in Cobb have died. Between April 24 and Oct. 27, 601 people have been hospitalized and 33 have died in Georgia.
Foote said the five target groups for vaccination efforts - as recommended by the CDC -are pregnant women, individuals who live with or provide care for infants, health-care and emergency medical services personnel, children and young adults ages 6 to 24 months, and those between age 25 and 64 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications.
The vaccine, she said, is being distributed to physician's offices, hospitals and public health clinics.
WellStar Health System's influenza expert, Dr. Marcia Delk, advises people to be cautious but not agonize about the H1N1 virus.
"It's not something you should panic about," said Delk, WellStar's senior vice president of medical affairs and chief quality officer.
Emory-Adventist Hospital at Smyrna reported an outpatient increase in H1N1 cases, but it has not received any doses of the H1N1 vaccine, according to Susan Hebert, director of quality management.
WellStar has received more than 4,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine, which were distributed to the high-risk patients, such as pregnant women and children, said spokesman Keith Bowermaster. He said WellStar will continue to receive varying quantities of the vaccine until its initial order of 48,000 doses on Sept. 15 has been filled by the state.
WellStar reported no recent increases in H1N1 cases.
WellStar - which has over 11,000 employees and operates Kennestone, Cobb and Windy Hill hospitals in Cobb County, Douglas Hospital in Douglasville and Paulding Hospital in Dallas - said it has adopted proactive measures to prevent patients and staff members from contracting the virus.
Signs are posted at the entrances to all facilities that list the symptoms of flu and encourage visitors to delay their visit to the facility until 24 hours after they are symptom free and fever free - without the use of fever-reducing medication. Through e-mail and department meetings, WellStar personnel are reminded of the precautions to take when caring for patients who either have or may have the flu, and what to do if they believe they have come in close contact with an influenza patient.
"So far we have not experienced a large percentage of employees out sick because of the flu," said Bowermaster. Hebert said Emory-Adventist was "prepared to manage any occurrence related to the management of H1N1."
Flu activity is now widespread in 48 states, according to the CDC. From Oct. 18 to 24, influenza activity continued to increase in the U.S., it reported in its FluView report.
Cobb & Douglas Public Health has administered approximately 4,600 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine, said Foote. But, she acknowledged that there are stories circulating about a shortage of the seasonal flu vaccine.
"We have heard that there are shortages of seasonal flu vaccine from our clients and our medical colleagues," Foote said. "We imagine that it is because more people are requesting it this year at the time they get the H1N1 vaccine, or in light of the H1N1 limited supplies we have experienced to date."
Emory-Adventist reported an increase in outpatients with seasonal flu symptoms, but WellStar said it has not. WellStar said that it has not yet received its entire shipment of the seasonal flu vaccine.
"The number of patients who come to one of WellStar's four emergency departments with flu-like symptoms has remained constant - with occasional daily spikes or dips - but overall, we've seen neither a decrease or increase," said Bowermaster.
Delk recommends that individuals get vaccinated for both the seasonal and H1N1 influenza, particularly those at high-risk.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services secretary reports that 37,000 deaths are caused each year by the seasonal flu virus.
The majority of individuals infected with the H1N1 virus experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without complications. Symptoms of the virus are similar to seasonal influenza and include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, extreme fatigue, and possible nausea and vomiting, especially in children.