Crow Wing County is scheduled to receive 8,000 doses of the first shipment of the H1N1 vaccine, which will be distributed first to children ages 6 months to 24 years at mass immunization clinics in Baxter, Crosby and Pequot Lakes, Brainerd School Board members learned Monday.
Joyce Mueller, Crow Wing County Public Health nurse manager, spoke to board members at their regular meeting Monday. Todd Lyscio, Brainerd Community Education director who is helping to coordinate the district's H1N1 response, also spoke of the district's plans to combat the spread of the virus.
Mueller said the Minnesota Department of Health will receive the shipments of the new vaccine in mid- to late-October and then will begin the process of dispersing the vaccine throughout the state. She said Crow Wing County may get its first shipment sometime in November.
After the initial 8,000 doses, the county projects it will receive about 5,000 doses weekly after that, available only through county public health. Mass immunizations clinics will then be scheduled at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, which can accommodate a large crowd, and at the schools in Pequot Lakes and Crosby.
Children with fragile medical conditions will be considered first for the vaccine, followed by those 6 months to 24 years. Mueller said the clinics will be held in the evening so parents can bring their children.
Mueller said the county has been told to expect a peak of the H1N1 virus in six to eight weeks, with 30-40 percent of the population sick with the virus.
"It may not be a serious illness, but they'll be at home," Mueller said, of those who contract the H1N1 virus.
Lyscio explained how the district is combating the spread of the H1N1 virus from many angles, including administrative, nursing, custodial, parental and through communications and its collaboration with other school districts.
Lyscio said administrators will disseminate information and make important decisions, such as whether to close schools or find potential isolation areas for ill students. He said custodians are posting handwashing procedures throughout the district and providing additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the buildings.
Lyscio said the nursing staff is providing proper handwashing instructions to elementary students and remaining in contact with local and state health officials. He said teachers will be monitoring the health of their students, in addition to periodically disinfecting common surfaces in the classroom.
"I think our kids are going to get tired of being told to wash their hands, at least that's the hope," Lyscio said.
Lyscio said parents need to help the district with early detection by following the district's new guidelines when it comes to their child's fever management. A student may not return to school for 24 hours after he/she has been fever free without medication. He said the district also asks parents to notify the school immediately of flu-like symptoms and support proper preventative measures at home.
Lyscio said the district's Web site, www.isd181.org, has helpful links to other H1N1 recommendations and guidelines. He said the district will keep parents up to date on H1N1 through its Web site and other media, including the Brainerd Dispatch.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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