Swine Flu Push Puts Other Public Health Work On Hold : Shots - Health News Cases of H1N1 might be on the decline, but public health departments are still dealing with the fallout.
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Swine Flu Push Puts Other Public Health Work On Hold

While the toll of the swine flu has been less than some had feared, the virus' affect on public health programs may have been greater than you might have expected.

With all the demand for swine flu vaccine, there hasn't been much room for anything else in public health. Darron Cummings/AP hide caption

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Darron Cummings/AP

With all the demand for swine flu vaccine, there hasn't been much room for anything else in public health.

Darron Cummings/AP

Public health departments around the country had already been hit with budget cuts because of the recession before the pandemic hit. Then the new H1N1 virus came along. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the swine flu response meant many health departments had to forgo working on restaurant inspections, testing for tuberculosis and vaccinations against anything but flu.

Vaccination clinics take a lot of resources, planning and staff. One in San Diego was supposed to happen last week at an elementary school, but the department didn't learn it had enough vaccine to do so until less than a week before the clinic was scheduled, and it wasn't enough time to pull everything together to make it happen.

Our neighbor to the north, which has seen similar patterns of infection as the US has reported that their public health programs are feeling similar crunches because of the vaccination frenzy. Breastfeeding support programs, STD clinics and more were canceled to reallocate resources to dealing with H1N1, according to the Montreal Gazette.

Health workers on college campuses health workers have been telling us since September that they're overworked these days, with many of them extending office hours for the health centers to deal with the higher patient load and adding extra services like meal-delivery programs and special flu phone lines. Cornell University's health center director told the student newspaper that their staff had worked to the point of "exhaustion."

Relief may be in sight. The number of cases dropped significantly on college campuses in the past weeks, according to the most recent numbers collected by the American College Health Association.