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The commissioners court, meeting as the Health Care Trustees, will consider a contract Monday with the state department of health to purchase an unspecified amount of anti-viral drugs at a below market price.
These anti-virals will be part of the county's planned response to a likely Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreak this fall. The World Health Organization reports that H1N1 flu has reached pandemic proportions and is spreading worldwide. The WHO notes the rapid spread of H1N1, along with the normal season flu in the southern hemisphere, where the winter flu season has already begun.
According to the WHO, the United States has, by far, the largest number of cases of H1N1 in the world.
As of July 6, the WHO reported over 94,000 cases of H1N1 worldwide. The US accounted for almost 34,000 of these cases amounting to over 1/3 of the infections in the world. The US is also among the leaders in mortality cased by the H1N1 virus. While the US reports it has 36% of the flu cases worldwide, it also accounts for 39% of the deaths from the flu. The world death rate from the flu is 0.45%; in the US it is 0.50%
As of July 20, Collin County reported 76 cases and no deaths.
County health officials do plan on acquiring Swine Flu vaccines as well as the more traditional season flu vaccines when they become available - probably in September. According to Candy Blair, the county's Director of Health Care Services, the vaccines would first be made available to first responders and health care professionals, then to those citizens in high risk groups.
Update July 27:
At the Healthcare Trust Fund meeting today, Candy Blair explained that the county will only be purchasing 600 doses of the anti-viral drugs. 500 are for county 'first responders' and 'essential personnel'. 100 doses are being procured on behalf of the Collin County Community College District.
Ms. Blair told the commissioners that the State was only planning to procure 570,000 doses, and those were not for general distribution to the public - even in case of pandemic. The purpose of the state program is to ensure that in the event of a major epidemic, essential services are uninterrupted.
The commissioners asked Ms. Blair to prepare, for court approval, the list of 500 essential employees eligible to receive the anti-viral drugs.
It should be noted that this program is for drugs that are given after exposure to the Flu. They are not vaccines.
The county is planning on purchasing flu vaccines for low cost distribution to at risk individuals.
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