GREENCASTLE -- Currently there are efforts at the federal, state and local levels concentrating on the preparation for the fall flu season and the H1N1 threat.
The Board of Health discussed the situation during its Thursday night meeting. Presently, development and testing of a vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus is underway. It is hoped the first doses of the vaccine will be available by mid-October.
According to the latest information provided to Putnam County Health Department, the county will receive approximately 19,000 doses of the vaccine.
Priority groups to receive the vaccine include school-age children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, pregnant women and pre-school children six months or older and their family contacts. Also included in the priority group are medical care providers, emergency medical service, fire and police personnel and emergency dispatchers.
Vaccination of the general public will only begin after the priority groups have been vaccinated and as the vaccine is available. Meetings have already been held with school administrators and nurses from all the county schools to discuss pandemic preparedness efforts and the best way to conduct the expected mass vaccination clinics will be required.
Congress has appropriated a new source of federal funds for state and local levels related to the pandemic H1N1 flu virus. PCHD has completed all requirements for the 2008-09 Public Health Preparedness base grant and the Cities Readiness Initiative grant.
The Indiana State Department of Health will soon begin the process of distributing funds to each county. The grant award amount for Putnam County will be $17,594. There has not been any specific guidance yet on how the grant money should be spent.
Douglas Ehmen with PCHD said all this information is subject to change as vaccine development and preparedness efforts continue.
"As of this date, we have had four confirmed deaths in Indiana due to H1N1 virus. It remains to be seen how great the threat will be this coming flu season and the public perception of the threat," Ehmen said.
The health department has also met with Putnam County Council regarding its 2010 budget. The department will no longer have its own attorney; instead it will use the county's attorney Scott Hoff. There will no longer be part-time employees at the department and full-time salaries were reinstated.
Additionally, Kathryn Thomas with the health department said flu vaccines would cost $25 this year, the same as last year.