State

Swine flu vaccine is here

Health care providers in Stanislaus County have received the first shipments of vaccine for H1N1 influenza and more of the vaccine will arrive in coming weeks.

With the release of the vaccine came official confirmation Wednesday that a county resident had died from the unpredictable flu. Ed Tribby, 53, of Valley Home died Oct. 2 at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto after being sick for a week and a half. He was an equipment operator for the city of Oakdale and had worked on a project to restore the clubhouse in Valley Home.

County health officials waited for lab results before confirming the fatality, the county's seventh from H1N1.

Officials have awaited the vaccine as the most effective mode of protection against the novel flu virus. In the majority of cases, the severity of the illness is the same as seasonal flu. But a small percentage of patients have serious complications.

About 4,600 doses of nasal spray vaccine were sent this week to physicians and medical clinics in Stanislaus County.

State health officials are asking doctors to give the limited supply of nasal mist to children age 2 to 10 and to parents with babies younger than 6 months. The spray is not recommended for pregnant women and people with asthma.

Health care providers should start receiving the injectable vaccine next week. Medical offices serving children have been given priority for those doses, health officials said.

In the next several weeks, millions of doses of swine flu vaccine will be released across the United States, making it available to people of all age groups.

"As it keeps coming in, it will be directed to health care providers in the community and pharmacies that give flu shots," said Nancy Fisher, an assistant director of the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency. "Once we have enough supply, the (Public Health Department) will hold vaccination clinics in the community."

Parents who want to have their children vaccinated can ask their physician.

The Sutter Gould medical offices received a limited supply of nasal spray this week, spokesman Craig Baize said. It will go to certain categories of patients as advised by the government guidelines, including children age 2 to 10, he said.

"We will be communicating with the appropriate patients in the near future," Baize said.

Sutter Gould expects to gets its full allotment of H1N1 vaccine over the next seven weeks. "When we do receive our orders, we will administer the vaccines in conjunction with our seasonal flu vaccine clinics currently under way," Baize said.

Kaiser Permanente received a limited supply of nasal vaccine and it's being distributed to its pediatric clinics, a spokesman said. The vaccine will be available to young patients starting Monday.

Because the initial supply is for certain high-risk groups, members are asked to call Kaiser's flu information hot line (800-573-5811) to see if it's appropriate for them. Kaiser expects to receive injectable vaccine in the coming weeks and said it will follow federal guidelines in giving it to priority groups.

Fisher said the H1N1 vaccine is manufactured the same way as seasonal flu vaccine, and should have the same safety record. In California, vaccine for children age 3 and younger must be free of a preservative containing mercury.

"H1N1 has the potential to be very serious, especially for children, and we don't know what the future holds for H1N1," Fisher said, meaning the virus could mutate into a more virulent form.

"Also, children and adults who are vaccinated not only protect themselves, but protect infants under 6 months. It can't be given to infants under 6 months," Fisher said.

Family, friends and co-workers mourned Tribby, the Valley Home man whose death was attributed to the flu, during a memorial service Wednesday.

Joseph Perez of Valley Home said Tribby knew everything about construction work. It's why he asked Tribby to get involved in an effort to restore a clubhouse in Valley Home for use by community groups.

Tribby worked on the surveying, demolishing the old building and clearing the site. "He knew it all," Perez said. "When I asked him to get involved he didn't hesitate to volunteer."

After becoming ill, Tribby was treated at Oak Valley Hospital in Oakdale and then moved to Doctors in Modesto.

"He made a big contribution not only to Valley Home but the city of Oakdale," Perez said.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or 578-2321.

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