Live chat with Dr. Judith Hartner, director of the Lee County Health Dept.
Good morning. We're about 10 minutes away from today's chat with Dr. Judith Hartner, director of the Lee County Health Department. We are looking forward to your questions about swine flu and swine flu vaccinations. My name is Frank Gluck, heath reporter for the News-Press, and I will be moderating this chat, which we're targeting to last about 30 minutes.
Friday October 30, 2009 11:48 news-press.com
OK, we're about five minutes away from our live chat Dr. Hartner. Are you ready to go?
Friday October 30, 2009 11:56 news-press.com
Friday October 30, 2009 11:57 Judith Hartner
OK, good morning. I'm Frank Gluck, heath reporter for the News-Press. I'll start things by asking how you thought the county's two swine flu clinics went yesterday.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:00 news-press.com
We are pleased with how the clinics went. Hours of planning and thought went into making those clinics a success. This morning we reviewed what happened, identified problems to be fixed so that Monday it will be even better
Friday October 30, 2009 12:02 Judith Hartner
What worked and what didn't? Given what you know now, do you anticipate any changes to how the clinics are going to operate in the future?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:03 news-press.com
The general lay out and flow of the clinics worked well. We see areas for improvement how volunteers and workers check in and are trained. We need more time and a quieter place so that we can be efficient.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:05 Judith Hartner
Speaking of volunteers, how is the effort going to recruit people to help out at the clinics?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:06 news-press.com
The public will not see any changes in the clinic operations. Let me take a moment and emphasize there is no need to jump in line early. People who came early (some as early as 6 AM) waited. Those who came in later part of the day were through the clinic in about 15 minutes.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:06 Judith Hartner
We are still recruiting. Our biggest area of need now is volunteers for the clinic scheduled for East High School in Lehigh Acres.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:07 Judith Hartner
How many more people do you need? And how can they sign up to volunteer?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:08 news-press.com
For each clinic we need about 70 volunteers. I do not know the deficit for East High. People can volunteer by calling 211.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:11 Judith Hartner
OK, our first question comes from Jake.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:11 news-press.com
[Comment From Jake Jake : ]
Last year it was the "Bird Flu " and the government tried to scare people about that..What happen to the bird flu..did it just fly away ? Now we have the Swine Flu..can you absolutely guarantee there woill be NO side effects to this vaccine or don't you know or won't tell the whole story ?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:11 Jake
Bird flu hasn't gone away. It still infects poultry flocks and there continue to be human cases among people who are in close contact with poultry.
The planning for bird flu or any pandemic isn't about scaring people. It is about telling folks how they can prepare. We prepare for hurricanes, some times we are hit, most times we are not.
As far as side effects. Every drug and vaccine has side effects. There are not guarantees. For H1N1 vaccine, the side effects are generally mild and the benefit of protection greater than the risk of side effects
Friday October 30, 2009 12:14 Judith Hartner
Jake's comments reflect the skeptism that many in the public have about the severity of the swine flu and the necessity of vaccinations. What do you tell people who say that they think this is an over-hyped issue?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:15 news-press.com
H1N1 influenza for most people is a mild illness. That is good news. The majority of people recover. Unfortunately, some people have severe illness, complications and even death. Most people are not immune to H1N1 so many more of us will get sick - more than in a "regular" flu season. That is the concern and reason why we want to offer the protection of vaccine to as many as possible
Friday October 30, 2009 12:17 Judith Hartner
Not everyone is skeptical. According to your department's estimates, about 3,300 people turned out for vaccinations at the two clinics. Are you pleased with that turnout?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:19 news-press.com
Yes we are. We hope to see many more people in the weeks to come
Friday October 30, 2009 12:19 Judith Hartner
Our next question comes from Mike.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:19 news-press.com
[Comment From Mike Mike : ]
Do we have a choice, injection or nasal application?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:19 Mike
The nasal vaccine is for healthy people between the ages of 2 and 49 years old. People who fit that description have a choice.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:21 Judith Hartner
For now, the clinics are giving priority to those at high risk for swine flu complications, such as children, pregnant women and those with other underlying health problems. When do you think you'll have enough vaccine to open the clinics to all?
Friday October 30, 2009 12:22 news-press.com
I apologize, we are having some technical issues and briefly lost contact with Dr. Hartner. She will respond to the above question shortly. In the meantime, here's a comment from Robin.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:36 news-press.com
[Comment From Robin Robin : ]
My daughter-in-law just passed away 2 weeks ago as a result of the swine flu. Up until the past month I also thought it was an over-hyped issue, unfortunately I can tell you first-hand how serious this disease needs to be taken. She had no underlying health issues, she had just turned 30 the beginning of the week that she was hospitalized. It hit her suddenly and without warning and she was unable to recover. She walked into the hospital with shortness of breath and within 8 hours, she had to be put on a ventilator and into a medically induced coma. She spent the next 19 days like that before succumbing to this horrible disease.
Friday October 30, 2009 12:36 Robin
From Dr. Hartner: "We are concentrating on people in the priority groups now – pregnant women, children, young adults, health care workers. My guess is that by early December we will have enough vaccine for any one who wants the vaccine. "
Friday October 30, 2009 12:37 news-press.com
We're out of time. I want to thank you all for joining us and Dr. Judith Hartner, director of the Lee County Health Department, for her time today. Because of technical problems, we lost her on the live chat, and had to cut our interview short. For more information about the swine flu and area vaccinations, please check with news-press.com. If you would like to contact me, Frank Gluck, heath care reporter here at the News-Press, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great afternoon.