Schools, hospitals prepare for H1N1

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - As kids and parents gear up for the school year, administrators and health officials prepare to fight a growing pandemic.

The latest figures, released by the Alabama Department of Public Health, show more than 880 cases of the H1N1 virus in Alabama.

The numbers are expected to grow dramatically.

"We think it is very likely that we will see an upsurge in cases when school resumes or the weather turns cooler," explained Dr. Charles Woernle of ADPH.

People ages 6 months to 24 years old are one of two extremely susceptible groups.

Public school officials are already planning to fight the spread--pledging to isolate sick students and offer voluntary vaccination clinics at school.

"I don't see it being controversial.  You can volunteer to take it if you want to.  If you don't, you don't have to," said Dr. Joe Morton, state superintendent.

Local hospitals are also pooling their efforts, ready to set up quarantines and even off-site care if the patient load gets too big.

"[They're] ways that we could accommodate people if we could not control it in each one of our emergency rooms," explained Dr. Patty Miller, Disease Prevention Coordinator for Baptist Medical Center South.

With kids on their way back to school, doctors of medicine--and education--hope for the best.

"I think we can have a systematic plan--once the vaccine is available--to offer it to every child in every public school in Alabama," Morton explained.

For more information on the H1N1 virus, click here.

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