H1N1 Influenza

 

Vaccine Information

Citing increased supplies, the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) has lifted its earlier restrictions and is now directing that the H1N1 vaccine be made available to anyone interested in receiving it.

Members of the public are encouraged to check with their medical providers, or visit www.flu.gov or www.ochealthinfo.com, for updated information on the availability of the H1N1 vaccine.

For a list of local clinics offering vaccinations to the public, click here.

What is the H1N1 flu?

The H1N1 flu, commonly referred to as “swine flu,” is a form of influenza that causes symptoms similar to those associated with the regular flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur.

Like the seasonal flu, the H1N1 flu can vary in severity from mild to severe. Certain groups may also be more at risk, including those with chronic medical conditions.

To read the Orange County Department of Education's "Tips for Parents" sheet, click here.

 

How does the H1N1 flu spread?

Influenza viruses primarily spread from person to person via respiratory droplets that are expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets can be propelled into the air at great speeds, making their way to the mouths or noses of others nearby. Influenza viruses may also be spread when a person accidentally touches respiratory droplets – on an individual or an object – and then touches his or her own mouth or nose. That is why it is so important to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your mouth and nose.

What happens if my child or I catch the H1N1 flu?

Those who contract the H1N1 flu or any form of influenza should:

  • Stay home until all symptoms are gone for at least 24 hours
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink clear fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Cover their noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing
  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing, sneezing or handling tissues
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Treat fever, headache and body aches with a non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Check with their health care provider about any special care they might need if they are pregnant or have a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma or emphysema
  • Check with their health care provider about whether they should take antiviral medications

How can I limit exposure to the flu or prevent its transmission?

By now this may sound like a broken record, but your best defense is to wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Kids and adults are encouraged to wash for 20 seconds – or roughly the equivalent of singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective if soap and water are not’t available.

Also, avoid contact with those who are sick, and try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth throughout the day. Germs spread easily that way.

Will my child’s school be closed if there is a confirmed case of the H1N1 flu?

The short answer is no. The Irvine Unified School District continues to work closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Education, which are advising school districts to treat the H1N1 flu as it would the regular seasonal flu. That means school closures will not occur even if a handful of cases are reported. However, as with any influenza outbreak, health officials may make the decision to close a school if a significant number of cases are reported.

How do I recognize a fever or signs of a fever?

It’s safe to say a person has a fever if his or her temperature, as taken with a thermometer, is equal to or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are not able to access a thermometer, the sick person might have a fever if he or she feels warm, has a flushed appearance or is sweating or shivering.

Are some children at a higher risk for flu complications?

Children with chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic conditions, neurological and neuromuscular disorders, or those who are pregnant are at higher risk of having complications from the flu. In addition, all children younger than 5 years old are at higher risk compared to older children. To learn more about preventative measures and warning signs, click here.

If you are not sure if any of your children are at higher risk for flu complications, please check with your doctor.

Should family members of sick students stay home too?

Not unless the flu conditions are determined to be more severe. If flu conditions are more severe, school-aged children should also stay home for five days from the time someone in their home became sick. It is possible that family members are already sick with the flu and not yet showing symptoms. The five-day period provides enough time to know if anyone else is sick.

Who will be recommended to receive the H1N1 vaccine?

Health officials are recommending the H1N1 vaccine to anyone who wants it, assuming they haven't already contracted H1N1.

Those are in federal and state target groups are particularly urged to seek out vaccinations. Target groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, and people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

Will the seasonal flu vaccine also protect against the 2009 H1N1 flu?

The seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to protect against the 2009 H1N1 flu.

(For more specific questions and answers on the H1N1 influenza vaccine, click here.)

What should I do if I’m pregnant and I work at a K-12 school?

Pregnant women working in schools should follow the same guidance as the general public about staying home when sick, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and routine cleaning. That said, pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from the flu and should speak with their doctors as soon as possible if they develop a flu-like illness to find out whether they should take antiviral flu medicines. Any person at high risk for flu complications should do the same. Early treatment with antiviral flu medicines is recommended for pregnant women who have the flu. Pregnant women and their doctors should know that they are part of the first priority group to receive the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine.

Additional Resources

 

Have a question that's not on this list? Send your query to Public Information Officer Ian Hanigan at ihanigan@iusd.org and we'll try to track down the answer.