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Published January 12, 2010, 12:00 AM

Local health officials still urging flu shots

Jill and Ike Morsch and their two daughters had their own swine flu pandemic this fall when all four members of the Fargo family fell ill.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

Jill and Ike Morsch and their two daughters had their own swine flu pandemic this fall when all four members of the Fargo family fell ill.

First their 4-year-old daughter succumbed, with a fever, cough, runny nose and other upper respiratory symptoms.

Then Jill followed, and then Ike, who missed five days of work, and their younger daughter – the whole household was sick for two weeks in October, before vaccine for the H1N1 flu became available.

Jill Morsch joined public health officials Monday in urging people to get vaccinated against the swine flu ahead of a possible third wave.

“We could have used a vaccination,” she said. “It really was hard on us and on the girls,” she said, noting that the illness was debilitating and her daughters lost weight.

Also Monday, public health officials announced free H1N1 vaccination clinics in Fargo and Moorhead this week.

“It’s a serious disease,” said Kathy McKay, director of Clay County Public Health, noting swine flu has resulted in 1,800 hospitalizations and 54 deaths in Minnesota.

“H1N1 hits people very hard,” McKay said, adding that those stricken with it can be unable to work for days, as the Morsch family discovered. “In this economy, no one can afford to get sick with H1N1.”

With two peaks of swine flu now subsided, public health officials worry that complacency might have set in. Also, because swine flu has struck heavily among the young, public health officials worry that some older residents might not heed the call

for vaccination.

Flu epidemics, including the 1918 pandemic and 1957 epidemic, often come in three waves, said Dr. John Baird, health officer for Fargo Cass Public Health.

Seasonal flu season usually peaks in February and March, which could coincide with a resurgence of swine flu, if the pattern repeats, he said.

“There’s still some influenza activity,” he said. “The big question is will there be a third wave?”

Fortunately, demand for flu vaccine remains strong, said Ruth Bachmeier, director of Fargo Cass Public Health.

“It’s not too late to be vaccinated,” she said.

    If you go

  • What: Cass County free H1N1 vaccination clinic

  • When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today

  • Where: Fargodome

  • What: Clay County free H1N1 vaccination clinic

  • When: 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday

  • Where: Moorhead Center Mall


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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