Wednesday, October 28, 2009

H1N1 comes to class and School District 52 offers up an advisory

School District 52 sent home a letter to parents on Wednesday night, advising of the first reported case of the H1N1 virus in the city's schools and outlining the steps the School District has in place to deal with the situation and what may follow in the weeks and months to come. (click on letter to the left for details)

Westview school was identified as the location for the first confirmed case of the virus, a development which was being monitored by School officials in conjunction with Northern Health, according to the letter from Lynn Hauptman, Superintendent of Schools, the custodial staff conducted an additional cleaning of the Westview school on Tuesday evening.

The letter also outlines some simple health precautions for families at home to follow to try and reduce the spread of the virus through the schools as well as the latest vaccination information provided by Northern Health.

The School District and Northern Health are monitoring the situation and watching attendance levels at the school. Public Health will be advised if absence levels reach more than 10 per cent, in the meantime the schools are to remain open, as the pandemic is considered to be at the moderate stage at the moment.

The School District advised that they will continue to keep the flow of information current, as they receive further details, advisories or learn of further developments.

The advisory from the School District comes as the numbers of reported cases begins to increase across the country, the last few days have provided pictures of long line ups in many Canadian cities where the H1N1 vaccine is available, the initial vaccine sessions were designated for those at the most risk. And access to the flu shots is dependant on supply and the very different schedules that have been designed by local health authorities.

On the North coast, the flu shot clinics are not scheduled to start until next week, with the exception of the Queen Charlotte Islands where the vaccine has already been made available.

The quest for information has been frustrating for many Canadians and British Columbians are no exception. The Province's 8-1-1 hotline, has seen an overwhelming number of calls over the last few days, leaving many unable to reach the health professionals with their questions for hours in some cases.
The various websites from Health Authorities have also seen a surge in interest, with the number of hits increasing by large numbers as British Columbians try to access the latest information in what seems to be a growing sense of confusion for many as to what is available and when and where it may be acquired.

Of interest to the School District will be an item from the CBC website, which advises that the province has plans in the works to speed up the schedule for school age students. The recent high profile death of a Toronto area student and other cases of infection among school age patients, apparently putting their needs suddenly higher up on the list of those to get precedence for the vaccine.

Perhaps the increased interest by the province in school aged children could give an added push towards a school based vaccination program over the next few weeks, in order to ensure that students, teachers and school staff have access to the vaccine without delay.
Beyond that, having reassurance that enough vaccines are available and the introduction of a more orderly system for distribution might help to lower the levels of anxiety that seem to be increasing around the country over the last few days.

The latest advisories from Northern Health can be found on their website, while preventative tips can be found from the website.

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