FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) encourages Kentuckians to call a new toll-free hotline with their questions related to 2009 H1N1 influenza (swine flu) and seasonal flu for the latest news and information about flu. The toll-free hotline number is 1-877-843-7727, and it will operate from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
“We want Kentuckians to be able to access the most current and accurate information related to the ongoing 2009 H1N1 flu situation,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Particularly now that vaccine is beginning to become available, we know that citizens will have questions about whether the H1N1 flu vaccine is right for them and when they might be able to receive it. The hotline and Health Alert Web site will provide easier access to the information they need.”
The flu hotline will be staffed by nurses and administered by Kosair Children’s Hospital, a part of Norton Healthcare, through a contract with DPH funded by a federal grant award related to H1N1 activities.
Kosair Children’s Hospital also operates the state’s Regional Poison Center hotline. The flu hotline will be active through at least the end of December.
“As an advocate for children and families across the state, we are committed to ensuring that the public has access to the most accurate, up-to-date information about health issues, including H1N1influenza,” said Thomas D. Kmetz, president of Kosair Children’s Hospital and pediatric services at Norton Healthcare. “We are pleased to be able to partner with the state to help people get their questions and concerns about H1N1 answered.”
Kentucky was eligible to begin ordering 24,300 doses of nasal spray H1N1 vaccine last week, and expects shipments to begin arriving as early as today.
The nasal spray vaccine can be taken by healthy individuals ages 2-49. The first doses will be targeted mainly at health care workers under age 40 who are healthy, with broader availability as supplies increase.
The H1N1 flu shot vaccine is expected to be available mid- to late October, with vaccine clinics for the public likely to be scheduled in early November.
The symptoms of both seasonal and H1N1 influenza include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, cough, body aches, and may include vomiting or diarrhea. Individuals at higher risk for complications—such as those with chronic health conditions or who are pregnant—should contact a health care provider early, in case treatment with antiviral medication is necessary.
Common sense precautions to prevent illness include: avoiding close contact with those who are ill; staying home when sick; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth; and frequent hand washing.