STATE—State officials announced an aggressive initiative to prepare to handle any resurgence of H1NI influenza this fall.
“I am confident that we are ready to meet this public health risk head on,” said Senator Joseph Vitale, D-Woodbridge, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “While the resurgence of H1N1 is something that we have to monitor very closely, we can contain the risk and minimize the danger with common-sense prevention tips and strong communication between parents, school administrators and public health officials in the event that a child does become sick. With proper precautions, H1N1 can be no more serious than the seasonal flu, but we all have to do our part by following prevention guidelines to contain this disease.”
Under the state’s plan:
• Free vaccinations will be offered to the 1.3 million uninsured New Jerseyans at public health clinics in ever county throughout the state. For those insured, the vaccine will be covered by their provider.
• A public education campaign from the Department of Health and Senior Services will encourage hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and having both children and adults stay home for 24-hours after a fever subsides.
• The state will coordinate with school districts to monitor absences and implement practices to keep schools open.
• The state will work with school districts to establish a voluntary vaccination plan available at health clinics.
• The state will provide a ‘Find a Flu Shot’ link on the Department of Health and Senior Services website (www.state.nj.us/health/) for consumers to find locations where vaccinations are available.
Officials strongly encouraged New Jersey residents to get a seasonal flu shot and H1N1 flu shot when it is deemed safe and effective by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Information about the HIN1 vaccine will be posted on the Department of Health and Senior Services website when the vaccine becomes available.
“This is not the beginning of our preparedness efforts,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “We have been preparing for nearly a decade. We have taken the lessons learned from the spring H1N1 influenza outbreak and we continue to refine our preparedness plans.”
“We are fully prepared, on a number of levels, to combat this disease, but the most effective way to stop an outbreak is to prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Vitale. “We’re going to depend on state residents to make good health care choices, but we will also be ready if H1N1 reaches epidemic proportions in the Garden State.
Working together on all fronts, we will hopefully be able to keep our public school students – and all state residents – safe, and minimize the danger of H1N1 in our state.”
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