H1N1 discussed in meeting

Anthony Ellrodt
October 7, 2009
Filed under News

On Sept. 28, Kern county residents had an opportunity to speak to the Kern County Department of Public Health and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools during a swine flu town hall meeting about their questions regarding H1N1 and the upcoming flu season.

The panelists present to answer the public’s questions were Dr. Claudia Jonah and Matthew Constantine of the Kern County Department of Public Health, Dr. Christine Frazier of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and Dr. Royce Johnson from the Kern Regional Medical Center.

Concerns were raised by residents in various forms ranging from K-12 school preparation to those who possibly have confirmed cases of H1N1.

According to Johnson, “There have been 13 confirmed cases of H1N1 at KRMC. Eight have been hospitalized and 4 are in critical care.”

Frazier addressed preventative measures involving the Kern High School District.

“Hand sanitizers have been purchased and will be placed in every single classroom throughout the district,” Frazier said. “But we need to understand that there are just too many students in our district for our nurses to handle all at once. As a result, we’re following the Public Health Department’s recommendations which are coming directly from the CDC.”

Along those lines, the CDC announced through a technical report, which can be viewed at www.cdc.gov, that 40 percent of all H1N1 cases are now presenting without fever symptoms. When asked how the school district planned to handle this situation, Johnson waited several seconds before stating that he had not heard the statistic and admitted that some cases of H1N1 will “obviously present without fever symptoms.”

Frazier then offered her view on the subject. “You have to realize that not all flu is H1N1. Obviously if children are ill, we don’t want them at school. As a district, we’re going to have to rely on the doctor’s recommendation as to when the child can return to school.”

Jonah, public health officer for the Department of Public Health, stressed prevention over cure and spoke on the availability of the upcoming H1N1 vaccine.

“The first available round of vaccines will be the nasal spray formulation which will be available to caretakers of children ages six months and under,” Jonah said. “Shortly thereafter, we expect to have the next round available to health care workers and other at-risk groups possibly by the end of October or beginning of November.”

Those participating in the town hall style meeting were able to participate in several different ways including in person, telephone, Facebook and even Twitter. The meeting was also televised on KGOV channel 16 and on the Kern County Board of Supervisors website via streaming media.

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