Schools, health authority working to stay ahead of flu 

H1N1 vaccine expected in November

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The province is still working out a program for administering the vaccine, but Dr. Carsley says there will be enough for everyone.

"Once it's released we will be getting lots and lots of doses, it's really just a question of who we should start with," he said. "We're looking at what's happening with the virus in the southern hemisphere during their flu season, collecting information from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, etcetera, to see who is at the highest risk for complications from the flu. By the time the fall comes we should have a better idea of who should get priority for the vaccine."

That could include school age children. Seniors, who are typically the most susceptible to flu, seem to be resistant to H1N1 after developing immunity from an earlier outbreak. People in their late 50s have lived through another outbreak prior to 1957.

"It's kind of the opposite of what we usually see... it's certainly different than normal," said Dr. Carsley. "We clearly want to make sure we still offer the regular vaccine to seniors every year, and H1N1 will be available to them as well though it may not be as high a priority as people with respiratory conditions, for instance."

Generally speaking, H1N1 is a mild flu for most people. Of the 676 cases confirmed in the province less than 40 have resulted in hospitalization and 17 were admitted to intensive care.

To date there are no restrictions on travel, and there is no impact expected on the 2010 Olympic Games. According to the Vancouver Organizing Committee they are working with Vancouver Coastal Health on the issue, and are following their advice. At this point that means promoting awareness of hand washing, covering your face if you sneeze or cough, and staying home if you're ill.

Globally, the H1N1 is still considered to be a pandemic, although the World Health Organization lists the risk as moderate. Most people are recovering from infections without the need for hospitalization and medical care.

While four deaths rates as serious, between 400 and 800 British Columbians die each year as the result of seasonal flu and pneumonia.

Swine flu is typically found in pigs, but H1N1 is a new strain of virus that's capable of producing flu and viral pneumonia in people. Symptoms include fever, cough, headache, aches and fatigue. Some have also reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

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