Vermillion school board ready to battle H1N1 flu By David Lias
Plain Talk Topic of discussions among school boards this time of year usually includes updates on the progress made on sprucing up school buildings, both inside and out, in preparation for the resumption of classes. Back to school was on the minds of members of the Vermillion School Board Monday, but the talk wasn't limited to facility improvements completed in time for the first day of school on Aug. 20. Discussion was held on the policy to follow should an outbreak of H1NI flu occur in the district. Parents and guardians in the school district will soon be receiving a letter from Superintendent Mark Froke that outlines the steps that will be followed in response to concerns that students may be more likely to come down with the flu once they are together once again in classrooms. According to Froke's letter, the school will follow the advice of the Center for Disease Control. Those recommendations include: • a re-emphasis on the importance of hand-washing as well as other hygiene practices. Froke's letter asks parents to communicate the importance of such measures with their children. • Keeping children home when they are ill, especially those with significant fevers. • Students with confirmed cases of H1N1 will be asked to remain home until at least 24 hours after their fever subsides, or following their doctors' advice. • School closing will not take place as a result of an H1N1 outbreak unless the CDC changes its recommendations. "It is our understanding," Froke wrote, "that earlier recommendations to close schools were based upon a lack of complete knowledge about the H1N1 virus. In the event H1N1 flu becomes a more significant concern, the CDC will then issue new recommendations and we would act accordingly." The school district also will be taking a proactive step in the interest of children's health by working with city, county and state officials to provide a vaccination clinic on Oct. 29, from 2 to 7 p.m., in the new high school gymnasium. This clinic will provide vaccinations for the regular influenza strains Immunizations to combat the H1N1 flu may also be offered at this clinic. "This POD (point of distribution) will provide the regular, seasonal influenza vaccine, and we think we're also going to be able to provide the novel H1N1 vaccine," said Jill Munger, community health nurse. "We do not know for sure when the H1N1 vaccine will be available." Munger told the school board that the vaccination clinic will be open to all children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years old. She added that there is a possibly that the Vermillion event may be able to offer both regular flu vaccinations and shots to protect against H1N1. "We're also, as an incentive, going to offer 250 adult immunizations to try to draw in more numbers," she said. "The goal is to immunize 750 children ages 18 and under. That's a lofty goal, but we're hoping to get as many as possible." Last year, approximately 400 students in Vermillion received flu shots. One reason for the higher goal of October's clinic is that will also include children from Union County. Similar clinics will be going on statewide, Munger said. "I believe we are one of the first."