Thursday, September 03, 2009

Northern Health prepares for round two of H1N1

Anticipation of the second wave of the H1N1 flu has officials at Northern Health working out the details of their plan to tackle the challenges that could come their way as the winter flu season gets underway.

On Wednesday morning, Dr. William Osei a Medical Health Officer with Northern Health appeared on a Prince George community radio talk show (on CFIS 93.1 FM) hosted by Ben Meisner to outline some of the plans in place for when we find ourselves dealing with the return engagement of the much discussed flu.
It first arrived in the Northern Health jurisdiction earlier this year, providing for 57 confirmed cases, four hospitalizations and a few school closures across the Northern Health service area.

A vaccine for the flu is expected to be available in November, but as of yet, Northern Health has not determined how it will allocated the doses provided to the Northern service areas.

It's expected that the impact of the flu will be felt most by pregnant women,young children, as well as with people with other conditions like kidney, heart, lung problems, or those with immunity issues. In addition, health care workers and emergency service personnel have been identified as a group that could also be inoculated first when the vaccine becomes available, though Northern Health has not made any final deliberations on that yet.

This years flu shots may actually be two shots instead of one, with the H1N1 vaccine provided in addition to the regular seasonal flu shots.

Another concern is the impact that H1N1 seems to have on younger people, a group that normally doesn't have to suffer the ravages of flu as much as older folks. A particular watch will be kept on schools, universities and colleges this fall and winter, to see if the H1N1 virus takes root in those locations, making for a situation which could lead to a rapid spread of it through the communities of Northern Health's service delivery area.

The Opinion 250 website offered up some more background on Doctor Osei's appearance on the program on Wednesday and provided some more details on the work ahead for Northern Health.

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