posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 10:31 AM
New York (AP) -- Any school-age child in New York City can
get a free swine flu vaccination under Mayor Michael
Bloomberg's plan to contain the deadly virus this fall and
Bloomberg and other city officials were set to announce the
multi-pronged strategy later Tuesday to fight a second, more
serious wave of the virus that sickened hundreds of thousands,
many in schools.
Other elements of the city's plan include tracking
influenza at emergency rooms and posting that and other data on
a new flu Web site.
The city will also produce a daily report on public school
absenteeism and schools reporting five or more cases of flulike
And the administration plans to send out hundreds of
volunteers known as "flu fighters" to visit senior centers,
houses of worship, schools and other gathering places to
educate New Yorkers about the flu.
The swine flu vaccine, which is not yet available but
expected in mid- to late October, will be optional but offered to both public and private students. The city's public school
system is the largest in the nation, with 1.1 million pupils.
New York City's swine flu outbreak that began last April,
and killed more than 50 New Yorkers, was first detected in a
private high school in Queens. Nationwide, it has killed about
Certain groups have shown to be more vulnerable to swine
flu, including children and young adults.
"This flu seems to have gone around the world for this
summer, which is the winter in the southern hemisphere,"
Bloomberg said Monday, before his preparedness plan was
announced. "It's come back in some other places. Whether it
will come back here, nobody knows."
As part of this year's swine flu plan, which was developed
over the summer, if a school sees five or more cases of flulike
illness in one day, the school will send a letter to parents
stressing the need to keep sick children home.
Schools that experience "excessive" flu activity -- 4
percent of the student body on a single day -- will get a visit
by a doctor or supervising nurse to further assess the
situation. The supervisor will examine the school's infection-control
efforts that should already be in place -- like restrooms
stocked with soap and paper towels -- and will also decide
whether the Health Department should recommend additional
measures, like closing the facility.
The city warned that school closings would be a last
resort, as federal officials have said it is an unnecessary
action going into this fall and winter flu season.
Officials said they do not expect swine flu to cause
widespread severe illness, but warned that hospital emergency
rooms could be overburdened with worried people again this
season, similar to what happened last spring.
To prepare for that, the city is identifying other venues
to treat flu patients; under this part of the plan, some of the
city's health clinics could be designated as flu centers for
people to get vaccinations and outpatient care.
And in an emergency, the city said it could treat large
numbers of people by deploying volunteers through its Medical
Reserve Corps, a network of 8,700 doctors, pharmacists, nurses
and other health professionals.
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Sep/01/2009 15:19 GMT