To date, there have been seven H1N1 flu-related deaths in the state -- even though Indiana was one of the first states in the nation to begin vaccinating against it.
However, there have not been any H1N1 flu-related deaths in Putnam County, said Dr. Robert Heavin, health officer with the Putnam County Health Department.
With the arrival of the first shipment of the vaccine in Putnam County, the health department is ready to put its H1N1 flu vaccination plan into action.
"We will begin with health care providers," said Heavin. "Those who work in nursing homes, doctor's offices are among the groups people who should receive the vaccine first."
Since the 2009 H1N1 flu has been causing more illness in people 25 years and younger, school-age children are next on the list to receive the vaccine.
The four county schools -- North Putnam, Greencastle, South Putnam and Cloverdale -- have been informed on the vaccine and how to prevent the spread of influenza. Students are being instructed to wash hands thoroughly and often, cover their mouths while coughing or sneezing and containing germs by staying home when sick, which are rules applicable to everyone.
In addition, permission slips and information regarding the H1N1 flu vaccine are being sent home with every student.
"Middle and high school students will be given the opportunity to receive the vaccine during school, while after-school clinics will be held for elementary students," said Heavin.
Symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to the regular flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. Some people have not reported a fever, but have also reported diarrhea and vomiting.
Symptoms usually appear two to seven days following exposure and people may infect others from one day before getting sick and up to seven days after becoming ill.
Health officials are advising anyone with a fever to stay home until being free of fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducers, such as Tylenol or Motrin.
The H1N1 vaccine is available as a live, weakened nasal mist and an inactive, injectable vaccine.
"Putnam County has received 500 mists and 500 shots," said Heavin. "It is as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine. It is made the same way, by the same manufacturers."
Health officials recommend the live, attenuated nasal mist form for only healthy, non-pregnant people age two to 49 years old. Pregnant women, children six months to two years of age and individuals aged 25 to 64 years with underlying chronic conditions or who are immune compromised should receive the injectable H1N1 flu vaccine.
Since the health department received grant money from the state through Centers for Disease Control to distribute the vaccine, it is looking to contract with Putnam County Hospital to help with clinics. The Putnam County Commissioners will be voting on the contract at its next regular meeting Monday.
"We wanted to keep the money local since we don't have enough manpower to distribute the vaccine to the public," Heavin said about the contract.
For more information regarding the 2009 H1N1 Influenza A, visit the Putnam County Health Department Web site at www.co.putnam.in.us/healthdepartment