West Seattle, Washington
Two notes today if you want to get vaccinated against H1N1 flu but haven’t done it yet: First, new WSB sponsor West Seattle Community Clinic just sent word that it’s received more H1N1 vaccine. They have mist and shots, and will administer by appointment (they’re open M-F and occasional Saturdays/Sundays at 35th/Henderson): 206-937-9722. King County Public Health also has announced upcoming clinics to provide H1N1 vaccine to people who can’t afford it – including two in White Center, this coming Saturday and Wednesday. Read on:Read More
If you’ve been worried about H1N1 flu – a bit of good news from King County Public Health – the number of cases is on the decline. KCPH just sent a news release with the newest info – read on:Read More
Just in from James Apa at King County Public Health, at the end of a week in which people lined up to get H1N1 vaccine wherever it was available (above, one of West Seattleite Brandon Nicholson‘s photos from the line Wednesday outside a Sand Point pharmacy that briefly was the only one in the county offering vaccine to babies and toddlers):
We wanted to give you a quick update on vaccine availability in King County. Due to the national delay in H1N1 vaccine production, the supplies we have in the community aren’t enough to meet the demand right now, and it’s been a challenge for many to find vaccine. With the latest deliveries this week, King County has received approximately 165,000 doses of vaccine total since shipments began, and approximately 90,000 more doses are in the process of being ordered and shipped to King County.
Given the shortage, our current focus is on getting most of the available supplies to health care providers, so that they can vaccinate patients who are most at risk. As more vaccine becomes available, we’ll continue to provide it to health care providers to vaccinate more of their patients, so we encourage people in the priority groups to continue to stay in touch with their health care providers about vaccine availability.
To provide another option for people prioritized to receive H1N1 vaccine, Public Health is also allocating a limited portion of new vaccine supplies for distribution more widely through public venues. The 15,000 doses of vaccine we made available to pharmacies this week is the beginning of our widening distribution strategy.
He also suggested keeping an eye on the pharmacy list on the King County website – linked from our FLU tab atop all pages. We just checked again, and there’s no new availability listed in the West Seattle/White Center area right now.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear long lines formed quickly at the two West Seattle Walgreens that offered H1N1 clinics with vaccine for high-risk people ages 9 and up starting at 11 this morning for one-day “clinics” – WSB’er Kerry, commenting on our preview from this morning, reported being told 35th (photo below shows the line inside during the first half-hour) is out, but 16th/Roxbury (photo above) reportedly did not run out as fast, and was planning to extend the clinic till 4 pm or till supplies ran out. We’ll stress again, check before you go. We were not allowed to talk with store employees while there.
We’ll continue to report on vaccine availability as we get word from the county and other sources – with stories here on the news page and also adding to the FLU tab below the header as info comes in. 2:38 PM UPDATE: Brooke just e-mailed to say 35th SW has extended its clinic till vaccine runs out and she just got vaccinated with little wait.
New information from King County tonight, after the county’s announcement this afternoon — saying two local drugstores would be offering H1N1 vaccine to some high-risk people — conflicted with what WSBers were told when they called those stores. We inquired immediately with the King County Public Health staffers who sent out the media release – and just received this update from James Apa with King County:
Wanted to get you the latest on the H1N1 vaccination clinics. Our website is updated now, and the two Walgreens in the West Seattle vicinity are hosting flu clinics on Tuesday, November 10th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. We have a great relationship with our pharmacy partners and they’re doing a public service in hosting these clinics. In some cases, there was a timing issue with information being communicated to their individual sites, but it’s resolved now. Thanks to everyone for their patience.
Schedules for appointments are already starting to fill up, and we’ll be continuing to update our site over the weekend as availability changes:
8:36 PM NOTE: Just received an update from the county – published here – superseding all the earlier stuff here.
3:10 PM NOTE: As pointed out in comments — also in an e-mail and also in a school mailing list we’re on — there appears to be a discrepancy between what the county has sent out – and what the pharmacies are telling callers. King County Public Health spokesperson Matias Valenzuela tells WSB, “We’re looking into it.” So stand by for an update. Meantime, as commenters suggest, DON’T CALL YET – until this is straightened out by the county. Another spokesperson tells us they are “reconnecting with participating pharmacies” to find out what the discrepancy is about.
ORIGINAL 2:27 PM REPORT: An update from King County Public Health today – certain pharmacies around the county are now getting more H1N1 vaccine to make available to “people prioritized to receive” it. The list includes the two Walgreens (6330 35th SW and 9456 16th SW) stores in West Seattle – both by appointment, for ages 9 and up. Read on for the full countywide announcement:Read More
Just in from King County Public Health: The county will open four clinics to provide H1N1 vaccine to people with “significant health problems” and without health insurance. One of them is in White Center. Read on for the official announcement – which also includes info about a county flu hotline for everyone, starting tomorrow (877-903-KING):Read More
Thanks to Andrea and Tamara for the tip, which we subsequently found confirmed on the Seattle Lutheran High School website:
**We are sending the students home immediately. We had a student that roomed with someone that has a confirmed case of the swine flu. The school will be closed the remainder of the week, we will reopen on Monday.***
We are calling the school – if anyone’s in the offices – to find out more. 1:03 PM UPDATE: Just talked with Jenny in the SLHS office. The school was closed Friday anyway, because of the trip to the state softball tournament (as reported here), so in the “better safe than sorry mode,” they decided to just shut down now. Jenny says the “rooming” mentioned in the online announcement was during a trip that student took. And she says that school personnel who aren’t making phone calls right now are busy cleaning, just as a precaution.
A note from King County Public Health:
Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, Public Health’s Flu Hotline at 877-903-5464 will provide expanded service by offering callers an opportunity to speak with registered nurses. Hotline nurses will tell callers how to manage their symptoms at home, tell them if they need to see a doctor or health care provider and answer other medical questions about H1N1 flu. The Flu Hotline number is 1-877-903 KING (5464).
Also tomorrow, perhaps coincidentally, county political leaders plan a media briefing to “call for state legislators to provide dedicated public health funding to help counties statewide.”
In what’s becoming a daily update from Seattle-King County Public Health, the latest announcement says 6 more probable cases of swine flu have been reported, bringing the total number of likely cases in the county to 22. Health authorities also have changed their recommendations for how schools should handle news of a case of this flu – read on for the latest details:Read More
The daily update from King County Public Health came in a little while ago, so for everyone following the saga, the latest is: Six more potential cases, one of which was already suspected – three from Seattle: a 12-year-old and 14-year-old who haven’t been hospitalized, and an 80-year-old who has been, but is now out of the hospital. Read on for more details in the official news release:Read More
King County health authorities just finished a short briefing on the flu situation. One more case of suspected swine flu is now reported, a 9-year-old patient, and because of that, an additional school has closed in King County, Midway Elementary in Des Moines, but no more Seattle Public Schools closures were announced, beyond the current three (Madrona, Stevens, Aki Kurose), none of which is in or near West Seattle. Perhaps the most important thing Dr. David Fleming said: Right now this flu seems to be behaving like “regular” flu – different levels of severity, but no worse than the seasonal outbreaks. Also participating in the news conference was Mayor Nickels, who noted that the city’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated to help track the flu outbreak. And authorities again stressed, the most important thing you can do is to stay home if you feel sick. We’ll add more info here when the official roundup from today’s briefing is available.
ADDED 4:53 PM: As promised, we’re adding the official roundup. It also includes word of a new flu hotline – 877-903-KING – and the total number of schools in King County closed because of the flu situation is now five (so we have changed our headline):Read More
Couple of updates since the last addition to our ongoing flu story (we will launch a new one tomorrow for any updates during the day): The city of Seattle has added extra resources to its home page, including a special section about the flu; see it here. The city also has joined with Seattle Public Schools in the announcement of three schools (NOT in West Seattle) now closing for at least a week because of flu concerns, and asking that students from those schools be kept at home. Here are the latest announcements (and a map of those three schools’ locations):Read More
Last night, we covered the developing story of three “probable” Seattle swine-flu cases. While there is no specific “West Seattle angle” at this point, we plan to include major area developments here at WSB, knowing this is one of the places you come for news. Right now, our plan is to start with one story – today, this one – that will be updated throughout the day with what’s new, whenever there’s something more major to add. We start with:
THURSDAY MORNING: Seattle Public Schools has announced Madrona K-8, attended by one of the patients with a “probable” case, will close until next Thursday to be on the safe side. Here is the SPS announcement, including a message to all district families.
ALSO THURSDAY MORNING: The Everett Clinic is talking with reporters right now about the pediatrician who lives in Seattle and works at their Mill Creek clinic and was identified last night as one of the “probable” cases. They say she saw 22 patients on Monday and they are notifying them all. The doctor and her family, who also showed some flu symptoms, are all said to be “doing well.” Here is the clinic’s news release.
THURSDAY, 11:21 AM: Pathfinder K-8 has postponed tonight’s Multi-Cultural Night until May 21 as a school-initiated decision to be “proactive.” Separate story here.
THURSDAY, 4:47 PM: More new probable cases announced in King County – here’s a Seattle Times roundup.
Information resources (we’ll add more, and let us know if you have something to recommend):
Seattle/King County Public Health swine-flu page
CDC (federal) swine-flu page
Fast-breaking CDC updates via Twitter
State Department of Health swine-flu page
Any other Seattle/King County swine-flu news announced today will be added here, unless there’s something WS-specific, in which case we’ll publish a new, separate story.
7:02 PM THURSDAY: Here’s the news release about the additional probable cases announced today, and additional school closures (NOT in West Seattle):Read More
ORIGINAL 8:52 PM REPORT: Hours after county health experts briefed the Seattle City Council, saying there were no known swine-flu cases here, they have announced three “probable” cases – here’s a news release we just received:
Today, three probable cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, have been identified in King County. The laboratory samples have been sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Public Health – Seattle & King County is awaiting final confirmation.
The CDC has determined that the swine flu virus H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu include a fever of more than 100°F, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
“Now that swine flu is likely in King County, we expect to see more infections, but it’s too early to say how severe the illnesses will be. We are working to provide needed information and assistance to these people and their families. We are also working with health care providers and community partners to prepare in the event that the situation becomes more serious,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
“We’ve prepared for this day for the past four years, and now we must all do our part to reduce its spread,” said Ron Sims, King County Executive. “We encourage everyone to get prepared at home, find out about plans at your job, and take steps to protect yourself, your family and the community by staying home when you are sick, washing your hands often and covering your coughs and sneezes.”
“In the last few years, Seattle has prepared for pandemic flu. We will activate our Emergency Operations Center at the first level so our emergency operations personnel can coordinate procedures and communications,” said Greg Nickels, Seattle Mayor.
As of today, April 29, there are three probable cases of swine flu in King County, in addition to two cases in Snohomish County and one case in Spokane County.
The three King County residents with probable swine flu include:
o a male child of Seattle who was hospitalized and is improving
o a male in his 20s from Seattle, not hospitalized and improving
o a woman in her 30s from Seattle, not hospitalized and improving
Human cases of swine influenza virus infection also have been identified nationally and internationally.
When should you seek medical care?
Use the same judgment you would use during a typical flu season. Do not seek medical care if you are not ill or have mild symptoms for which you would not ordinarily seek medical care. If you have more severe symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or are feeling more seriously ill, call your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and if you need to be evaluated.
Public Health will continue to work with health care providers to test flu patients who develop severe illness or are associated with clusters, but does not currently recommend testing for all flu patients.
If the following flu-like symptoms are mild, medical attention is not typically required: runny nose or nasal stuffiness; low-grade fever for less than 3 days; mild headache; body aches and mild stomach upset.
What can I do now to get prepared?
This is an excellent time to get prepared at home and work for a possible influenza pandemic. See www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu
Everyday behaviors to stay healthy
o If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
o Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
o Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
o To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
o Avoid close contact with sick people
What is swine flu?
“Swine flu” is an influenza A (H1N1) virus normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.
Although this new virus is called “swine flu,” it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, or from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.
For more information and frequent updates: www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu
Public Health Hotline: 206-296-4949
We have a message out to the Health Department to ask if they can or will be any more specific about what part of the city the Seattle patients are from. (9:18 pm addition: KING5 says one case is an 11-year-old Madrona Elementary student.) But we do want to reiterate one thing that we heard in the briefing on which we reported earlier today: Most of the U.S. cases so far have been fairly mild. This is NOT necessarily an automatically deadly/severe illness. Take the steps that authorities are counseling – but don’t panic. The county’s official swine-flu information page is here.
9:47 PM UPDATE: Also wrote this in comments – Just talked to James Apa with King County Public Health. Beyond the information about the child, which they provided because of the school aspect of the story, he says they are not going “lower than city level” in terms of descriptive information about the two patients – trying to balance privacy with public information. So for now, unless the two patients or someone close to them decides to independently inform a media outlet, there is NO info publicly available on where they are from. Also note, Seattle Public Schools is making recorded phone calls to ALL district families to let them know about the Madrona case and to reiterate that schools are open, no changes at this point – several people in comments, and on Twitter (@westseattleblog) and Facebook (WS Blog), have already reported getting those calls.
9:58 PM UPDATE: County Councilmember Julia Patterson, who chairs the county Board of Health, just sent this statement:
“Now is not the time to panic, but to use every day common sense precautions, like washing your hands regularly, covering your cough, and staying home from school or work when you are sick.
“Our public health department is one of the most prepared in the nation. They have prepared for the most severe form of this influenza, even though the cases thus far are more mild.
“I am confident that they are making every effort to reduce the spread, by educating those infected or at risk, and by keeping residents informed and protected.”
And minutes after that, a news release with a statement from West Seattle-residing County Council Chair Dow Constantine:
Metropolitan King County Council Chair Dow Constantine was present at tonight’s briefing on the suspected local swine flu cases, and has this statement:
“I’ve been briefed tonight by Public Health and I am impressed with their swift action to identify and report these suspected local cases of swine flu to the CDC for confirmation. We were briefed Monday on their plans for heightened monitoring and we are now seeing the results of that work.
“We have one of the finest public health agencies in the nation, with whom we have been making plans for an event such as this since 2006. The plans are good and I’m confident they will be well-executed.
“The best way we can all minimize the spread of infection now is by ensuring we have an educated and prepared public.”
11:14 PM UPDATE: One comment asks about how these people might have gotten the virus, if indeed they have it. That information has not been released. One is a doctor, said to have possibly seen patients on one day while she might have been contagious, and they will be notified.
You can watch live on channel 21 or online at seattlechannel.org. We’ll summarize afterward but will also add any major toplines here as it happens. City Council President Richard Conlin opened by noting that the World Health Organization has just raised the pandemic-preparedness alert level to 5 on a scale of 6, so the briefing is “timely.” County public-health managers are leading the briefing, same ones who briefed the County Council earlier this week (WSB coverage here).
2:56 PM UPDATE: Briefing’s over. Here are the toplines:
-No local cases, not even any reports of increased absenteeism or severe illness of any kind that might point to something suspicious
-U.S. cases have acted more like typical flu, “on the mild side” (aside from one toddler death reported today)
-Northern Hemisphere less at risk right now than Southern Hemisphere since prime flu-spreading weather is ending here
-King County’s been prepping for a pandemic since 2004; its stockpile of antivirals – with more on the way – eventually will be enough to treat 25% of the county’s population if that many people got sick; would be distributed through pharmacies, clinics, doctors; what’s on hand now should retain its potency through 2013
-If you feel sick, STAY HOME – don’t expose others; face masks, by the way, are mostly good for sick people who can’t stay home trying to minimize spreading their illness to others – might have some protection use – two most important things you can do to keep anything from spreading: Wash your hands, cover your cough
-Symptoms would be sudden onset, high fever, achy joints and muscles, cough
-If you were immunized against swine flu in the ’70s, doesn’t help, this is a different virus