US: Bracing for flu season
Posted: August 30th, 2009 - 10:54pm
Source: Asbury Park Press
The H1N1 virus could infect one-third to one-half of Americans this fall, killing 30,000 to 90,000, according to a report released by the White House Monday.
The report stresses these figures are not a prediction, but "plausible" and a "reasonable model for planning."
Students will return to schools ahead of an H1N1 flu vaccine expected to be available in mid-October. School districts are making preparations for prevention and planning for possible school closings as flu season and the school year begin. They have been planning since last spring.
The virus' spread slowed over the summer months when cold viruses are usually dormant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the CDC expects the virus to pick up again in the fall, when flu virus infections are generally stronger and more common, as students come into close contact with each other for longer periods of time.
School officials are taking the virus very seriously, said Jackson School District spokeswoman Allison Erwin. The first confirmed H1N1 death in Ocean County came June 27, a 6-year-old Jackson student whose pre-existing medical condition made him more susceptible to complications.
Erwin and hundreds of other school administrators attended an H1N1 preparedness forum for school administrators at South Brunswick High School Tuesday, hosted by the state Departments of Education and Health and Senior Services.
The message there was to avoid closing schools.
All New Jersey schools will be following the CDC recommendations, hoping for the best, but planning for the worst, said Michael S. Citta, assistant superintendent of Toms River Regional Schools.
Districts will be asking teachers to monitor their students, especially in their first class period. If a student appears to be ill, they will be sent to the nurse's office and evaluated; if the nurse deems the symptoms flu-like, the child will be sent home.
Students will be given information in their classrooms about hygiene and the virus.
Toms River Regional and Freehold Regional High School District will have hand sanitizer available for students and staff.