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News and Information About H1N1 Influenza

Here is the latest H1N1 information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Is my child at high risk for complications from the flu?

For the answer, visit:

Asthma and H1N1 Flu

A person with asthma who gets any type of flu has a greater chance for developing serious health complications from the infection. Compared with people in general who get 2009 H1N1 flu, people with asthma with 2009 H1N1 flu are more likely to have serious illness, such as pneumonia, and even die from 2009 H1N1 flu. Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to prevent influenza. Anyone with asthma is recommended to get both the seasonal flu vaccine and 2009 H1N1 vaccine.

If you or your child with asthma has flu symptoms, call your doctor right away. Treatment should begin as soon as possible. Antiviral drug treatment works best when started early (within 48 hours after symptoms start).

Flu Shots and People with Asthma

People with asthma should get both the 2009 H1N1 flu shot and the seasonal flu shot because they can get seriously ill from any type of flu. People with asthma should get the "flu shot"—a vaccine made with inactivated (killed) flu virus. The flu shot is given with a needle, usually in the arm. Both 2009 H1N1 and seasonal flu shots are "killed" vaccines, so you cannot catch the flu from getting these shots. Persons with asthma should not use the nasal spray "FluMistĀ®" vaccine.

H1N1 Flu Vaccine

A flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against influenza illness. There is a seasonal flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu viruses and a 2009 H1N1 vaccine to protect against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (sometimes called "swine flu").

The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines are very similar to seasonal flu vaccines, which have very good safety track records. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received seasonal flu vaccines.

What is South Colonie doing to help stop spread of the flu?

At South Colonie, the district has been monitoring our student attendance at school on a regular basis as requested by the NYS and Albany County Departments of Health as part of the 2009 H1N1 influenza response plan. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of students who are sick with flu-like illness in our school community and in the Capital Region.

Influenza-like illness can be caused by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, the seasonal influenza virus, or other respiratory infections. However, national surveillance data has shown that the vast majority of influenza-like illness circulating in the United States at this time is H1N1 influenza.

Albany County Health Department officials are working closely with our school nurse and school administrators on strategies that reduce the spread of flu. Our goal is to keep you, your children, and our school community healthy. We really need your help to do this. Therefore, as an important reminder, we ask that you take the following steps:

  • Know the signs and symptoms of the influenza. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired. Some people may also have nausea or vomiting and not everyone will have fever.

  • Keep sick children home while they have flu symptoms and for 24 hours after the fever goes away, without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Keeping sick students at home means that they keep their viruses to themselves rather than sharing them with others.

  • Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water. You can set a good example by doing this yourself. The use of hand gels (with or without alcohol) may also be helpful at times when hand washing isn’t possible.

  • Teach your children to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. Give them tissues to use. When tissues are not available, teach them to cover up their cough or sneezes by using the inside of their elbow or arm instead of their hands.

  • Teach your children not to share personal items like toothbrushes, drinks, food, or unwashed utensils.

  • If your child has chronic health problems and displays flu-like symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Your provider may decide to order an antiviral medication for your child.

  • Get your child vaccinated for both the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu when vaccine becomes available. A flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against influenza illness.

2009 H1N1 is the new flu strain of influenza. Children are considered a priority group and are strongly recommended to get this vaccine. The flu shot is now available to all priority groups. Clinics are frequently posted on this web site.

Throughout the flu season, students or staff that come to the health office with flu-like illness will be isolated and given masks to wear until they are able to go home. In addition, students found to have flu-like symptoms will be excluded from all after-school activities.

It is important for all parents and caregivers of our students to plan ahead for child care at home in case your child gets sick. If your child does get sick, monitor his or her health as well as the health of any other children in the household by checking for fever and other flu-like symptoms.

Please read the Seasonal and 2009 H1N1 Flu: A Guide for Parents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (pdf). We will continue to keep you updated with new information as it becomes available. Please continue to check this web site for further updates.