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Home > Health Topics > Podcasts > Back to School H1N1 Advice

Back to School H1N1 Advice

August 7, 2009

William Walker, MD
Director
Contra Costa Health Services

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See our H1N1 (Swine Flu) pages.

With children heading back to school soon, we believe there may be another rise in illness caused by H1N1 flu.

I'm Dr. William Walker, County Health Officer and Director of Contra Costa Health Services, here to talk to you about ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, and what to expect in the coming months.

Last spring we saw a new virus called H1N1 flu, you may have heard it called swine flu. Because the virus was new, people had little or no immunity and many became ill. While most illness has not been severe, there have been fatalities in our county linked to the H1N1 flu virus.

We do not know when the H1N1 flu vaccine will be available, but we will let you know when it is and how it will be distributed. People should get the vaccine when it becomes available.

We won't recommend school dismissal unless there are high numbers of students and teachers absent and this interferes with a school's ability to operate.

For now, it is important to protect yourself from H1N1 flu the same way you protect yourself from regular seasonal flu. Follow these steps to prevent spread:

If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with other people. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Do not return until you've had a full 24 hours of normal health and no fever. You do not need a doctor's note to return to school or work.

Cough and sneeze into your sleeve. If using a tissue, cover your mouth and nose and throw away the tissue, then wash your hands.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Like seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus can live for a few hours on surfaces.

It's also important to keep as healthy as possible. One way to do that is to get vaccinated against the regular seasonal flu.

Though we do not yet have an H1N1 flu vaccine, we will have the seasonal flu vaccine this fall. We encourage everyone who can to get the seasonal flu vaccine, especially school-age children who might expose older relatives and younger siblings to the virus.

The regular seasonal flu vaccine will not protect you against H1N1 flu, but it will protect you from the regular seasonal flu, which kills about 36,000 Americans every year.

Vaccines are different than antivirals. Vaccines prevent disease. Antivirals, like Tamiflu, are used to treat someone who is already sick with the flu or who has been exposed to the virus.

To find out where to get seasonal flu vaccine this fall, call the Public Health Flu Hotline at 925-313-6469 or visit www. flu clinic locator .org

We have more H1N1 and back to school information on our website, www.cchealth.org

Thanks for listening.


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