Monday, November 23, 2009

Windy, wet Monday flu vaccination alert

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The weather has turned dismal, a uniform colorless grey, dim, misty drizzle; the boats are ghosts along the water, the bridges only faint lines in the mist.  The streets are vacant, only the occasional  pedestrian blows by, umbrella flattened to their head.

The phones are starting to quiet as US residents move into the Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s a hard time to be in Europe, this was always the time that the family got together for a day of cooking, toasting the bird as it went into the oven and thinking of things to be thankful about as it came out.  The most memorable Thanksgiving was the year that my daughter was born the day before: my son, 2 years old, and I had a patched together dinner and talked about his new sister.

I prevailed on a Dutch friend this year to help me find some turkey for the holiday.  The local butchers said that they couldn’t help with ordering, and the Markt Square vendors didn’t have the bird.  We finally visited a shop that specializes in game meats, rabbit, venison, and such, located outside of town: they had turkey breasts for about $2.50 per pound.  So I got a couple and feel like I’m really making progress.  I’m dusting off the cranberry and pie recopies and am joining friends for a traditional dinner.

Against this warm memory, the US Consulate sent along an urgent announcement about the  H1N1 flu:

The Dutch Minister of Health has decided, as a preventive measure, to recommend that all children born between 23 November 2004 and 23 May 2009 be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus.  Furthermore, all members of households with babies younger than 5 months old are strongly advised to be vaccinated as well.

The country-wide vaccination program will be carried out by the municipal health services (Gemeentelijke Gezondheisdsdienst, GGD) and comprises two vaccinations with an interval between them of approximately two weeks.  Vaccination will start on 23 November 2009 and will be free of charge.  The GGD vaccination scheme is mentioned on http://www.grieppandemie.nl/informatie_voor/kinderen/oproep_vaccinatie.

If you are quarantined or placed in isolation due to 2009-H1N1 influenza, please contact the Consulate General so we can monitor your situation.  U.S. citizens residing or traveling in the Netherlands are encouraged to register with the Consulate General through the State Department's travel registration website to obtain updated travel and security information.

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