On the day health care workers in Fayette County received the first doses of H1N1 vaccine, the flu-related death of a 39-year-old Scott County man was confirmed.
Matthew Finger started feeling bad about 10 days before he died Oct. 3, but "he just wasn't that sick," said his older sister, Beth Butrum, also of Georgetown.
Another sister had checked with Finger about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and he was up and about, requesting a dinner of mashed potatoes and gravy from Kentucky Fried Chicken, his favorite, Butrum said. By the time the sister returned at 4 p.m., he was dead.
"It was just that quick," Butrum said.
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Finger had been laid off from his job at CEVA/Norfolk & Southern Railroad and didn't have insurance, she said. But as "a typical guy," she said, he probably wouldn't have gone to the doctor anyway. Besides, she said, he seemed to have turned the corner. "We'd all checked on him. We'd spoken with him" Butrum said. "That's what is scary about it."
"I will remember he always had a smile on face, and his son was the joy of his life," Butrum said.
Finger, who was buried last week, leaves behind a 6-year-old son, Connor.
Finger is the sixth confirmed H1N1-related death in Kentucky and the first to die at home.
Scott County Coroner John Goble said Finger didn't have any known underlying medical conditions.
Health officials continue to urge that the best defense against infection from H1N1 is frequent hand washing, staying away from those who are sick and receiving the vaccination when it becomes available.
And, health officials say, more vaccine is on the way.
About 3,000 doses are being distributed by the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, with some 10,000 doses being doled out around the state.
The vaccine, the first available in Kentucky for H1N1, is currently available only in a nasal spray, not as an injection. It is being given first to those at greatest risk for infection, with health care workers at the head of the line.
Others in the "priority group" will be provided with the vaccine as it becomes available. Because the spray vaccine contains a "live" virus, it is not recommended for anyone with health complications.
Injectable H1N1 vaccine should arrive within days and health officials say as weeks pass, more vaccine will be available to the public.
Kentucky's first public flu clinics have been scheduled, in the counties served by the Lake Cumberland District Health Department, but they primarily will serve health care workers. Those counties are: Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, Taylor and Wayne.
To keep track of flu vaccine availability, call the Public Health Influenza Hotline at 1-877-843-7727 or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov. The state also is posting school closings on that site.
The Lexington health department is providing information on Facebook and Twitter at www.twitter.com/LFCHD.
The symptoms of seasonal and H1N1 influenza include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, cough and body aches, and may include vomiting or diarrhea. Individuals who experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pressure, dizziness, confusion or vomiting should seek immediate medical attention.
Those who suspect they have the flu should contact a physician to see if anti-viral drugs might help alleviate symptoms. The brand names of drugs now recommended are Tamiflu or Relenza.