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About this blog: A longtime newspaperman, I have been editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since it was launched Jan. 28, 2000. I was a reporter and Neighborhood News editor at the Chicago Tribune for 13 years, and previously a reporter for the Advance...  (More)

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Get those flu shots before it gets you

Uploaded: Oct 16, 2009
Early anxiety over the swine flu has waned a bit primarily because the large numbers of flu-like illnesses being reported are just that: typical influnza that we deal with every year. It's early for a flu outbreak, which usually comes in the late fall-early winter timeframe.

This year's outbreak is catching many before we've gotten our annual flu shots although the lines at Raley's, drug stores and other locations that are providing the shots show that we're lifting our shirtsleeves quickly to gain protection from the disease. Flu is nothing to slough off. A typical flu outbreak kills about 36,000 people each year in the U.S., with most victims already suffering from other health complications. Now, with the weather getting cooler and people spending more time indoors, germs flourish, infections spread more easily and the worst may be yet to come.

That's especially true in our schools, where Pleasanton has seen an increase in the number of students who are absent due to reported flu-like symptoms. So far this week, Alisal, Mohr, and Valley View elementary schools have a higher number of absences due to reported flu-like symptoms. Families with children in individual elementary classrooms that find five or more students are home with the flu are being notified by their teacher. At middle and high schools, the principal is notifying families if there are more than 20 students with these symptoms at a grade level.

No one really knows if any of these cases are the more serious H1N1 virus since most suspected cases of the swine flu have been mild or moderate, hardly indistinguishable from the typical flu, which, as we all know, can be bad enough. That's why everyone should have a regular flu shot as soon as possible and then consider the H1N1 vaccination when it becomes available.

Health experts tell us that viruses are unpredictable and adaptable, and a mild strain can mutate into something that packs a nasty punch. Anyone in the family who travels should be especially vigilant since some countries -- India, for one -- are shutting down colleges, schools, movie theaters and other places where people congregate to help contain the H1N1 and other flu outbreaks. Last June, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, a super-epidemic, although again, it's unclear if it was a typical flu or H1N1 epidemic. Adding to the uncertainty was a report by a presidential advisory group in August of a "plausible scenario" in which a swine flu epidemic could cause up to 90,000 deaths, three times the number felled in a typical flu season. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention countered that the toll would most likely not approach that number.

Clearly, as we are already seeing in our public schools, this could be a worse-than-average flu season, which is why so many of us are rushing to have the shots. It's the second time around for the flu concerns. In the initial outbreaks last spring, several schools closed in neighboring counties, although not in Alameda, and there were two-to-three suspected H1N1 cases in Pleasanton, although those turned out to be typical flu illnesses. In New York, where the outbreak was the biggest, 800,000 New Yorkers, or about 10 percent of the city's population, developed symptoms attributed to the swine flu virus.

Here, students were barely at their desks for the new school year before teachers, school nurses and others started lecturing them on the necessity to wash their hands often, use sanitizers that schools are now providing and cover their mouths when coughing.

At a recent school board meeting, flu was center-stage in the evening's discussion with school and health representatives advising parents to talk to their doctor ahead of time if their child has any chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or weakened immunity that puts them at higher risk for flu-related complications. When calling the school attendance line to report a flu-related absence, parents are also asked to be specific in describing the symptoms, such as fever, sore throat or cough. Students who are ill should stay at home and will not be penalized for being sick. Teachers have been asked to allow students to make up any missed classroom work.

Superintendent John Casey said there are no plans to close schools even if several students are at home battling H1N1 or a typical influnza. This is good because, as the Brooking Institution reported last month, closing schools and day care centers because of swine flu could cost between $10 billion and $47 billion in lost revenue, salaries and unscheduled time off for parents who also must stay home to care for children who are out of school.
What is it worth to you?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joseph, a resident of Downtown,
on Oct 16, 2009 at 10:57 am

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]

"Early anxiety over the swine flu has waned a bit primarily because the large numbers of flu-like illnesses being reported are just that: typical influnza that we deal with every year."

Actually that is FALSE. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]

H1N1 is very widespread. There is less anxiety about it because it isn't rampantly killing people as some fear-mongers originally implied it would.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joseph, a resident of Downtown,
on Oct 16, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Here is another article supporting my claim that H1N1 is widespread: Web Link

Nice reporting Bing.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sue, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 5, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Good information in the link, Joseph. Surprised Jeb hasn't PULLED it yet. He POLITICAL BIAS doesn't tolerate a fair press. The very informative comments & replys to 'Obama's Katrina' post didn't meet with Jeb's censorship so he pulled....only allows phony, even false information. His goal is not to enlighten if it interferes with his
bias....even if it means dispensing false info.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sue, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 5, 2009 at 9:32 pm

It seems Jeb is clouding the information....refering to many getting shots....yes flu shots !! but NOT SWINE flu shots !! We don't have them in Pleasanton.. Did, but it was at Pleasanton's low-income 'CLINIC'....not available to others.
Actually, when it was time for schools to open, I heard Sec'y Sebilius say the SWINE H1N1 wasn't available yet because of 'distribution' problems, but schools needed to be open, because low-income children wouldn't get food at home and needed to continue to be fed at school...(well, I guess that's one reason to keep schools open ??)
On two different networks in recent weeks, I've seen & heard (stick foot in mouth) Anita Dunn, inner staff circle to Obama, twice refer to the swine PANDEMIC !

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Janna, a resident of Dublin,
on Nov 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

So Sue, are you saying that low income people are less deserving of being vaccinated than the more affluent?

Does it occur to you that it might be done that way because those with insurance can see a doctor when they get sick, but low income people without any insurance don't go for medical care unless they're very sick due to cost. I can tell you this is true from personal experience.

You might want to note how you come across. I'm sure you don't really mean to disparage those less fortunate than you, right?

Every person deserves the same preventative care.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by not an extremist, a resident of Mohr Park,
on Nov 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm

The H1N1 vaccine has mainly been available thru free clinics for the uninsured and not by private doctors.

So Janna, let me ask you this. Do you believe the uninsured should have special prefrence in recieving the vaccine over the insured?

My opinion is no way! All people insured and uninsured in high risk categories should have equal access to the vaccine. Currently, that is not the case. People with health insurance deserve the same access.

Health insurance is not free. My premium now costs $700.00 per month for my family. This does not include deductables, copayments, and at least 20% of each medical bill not covered by insurance. My family is struggling to make ends meet. My husband and I works out butts off, but I still have a pile of medical and dental bills sitting here, and not enough money to pay them. A free vaccine to protect my kids sounds pretty wonderful about now.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by John G, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Nov 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Dr. Anthony Morris, a distinguished virologist and former Chief Vaccine Office at the U.S. Federal Drug Administration:
?There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza? and that 'The producers of these vaccines know they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.'

- ?I have never been impressed with its efficacy,? inventor of the ?flu jab,? Dr. Graeme Laver

Web Link

Dr. J. Anthony Morris, former Chief Vaccine Control Officer and research virologist, US FDA:
"There is a great deal of evidence to prove that immunization of children does more harm than good."

Web Link

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 21, 2009 at 11:12 pm

I know quite a few people who said they did not get the H1N1 shot nor the regular flu shot this year. Cost aside, what are the reasons why people are opting out of this?

 +  Like this comment
Posted by momoftwo, a resident of Amador Valley High School,
on Dec 2, 2009 at 10:11 am

The H1N1 vaccine is available at some local pediatrics offices. Call them to find out and get on the list. They will call you when they have it available. My two got the vaccine a few weeks ago, hopefully early enough to ward off a serious case, although they still are sick with colds/symptoms of other types anyway.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Janna, a resident of Dublin,
on Dec 2, 2009 at 10:52 am

Not an extremist,

I'm not sure how you reached that conclusion based on what I wrote. I was pointing out Sue's apparent loathing that low income people would get the shot before she would. As though low-income people are some how better off or more privileged than she, which is laughable.

I believe that everyone, based on need, not whether you can afford it, should be the deciding factor on getting access to health care. No, it's not free and it can't be, but it also shouldn't depend on having a job, especially when there are none. People are getting screwed on both sides and they've got us in-fighting. People can't see how alike they actually are.

I'm in your boat and sinking fast. My husband and I have no insurance. My husband has been out of work for a year and a half, save a couple of jobs that ended in lay-offs. I have two young children and we are almost out of money after cashing out our 401k. I have no idea what we'll do next if he can't find a job in the next month and the probably of that happening isn't improving. Believe me, I understand trying to make ends meet. My husband would love to be working his butt off at a job right now, even one without insurance. We had no debt, except car loans before the job loss, now we are in debt with no relief in sight and the possibility of having to move for a third time since February. It's not pretty out there for a great many people. Some people around here need to pull their heads out and take a look and stop denying that.

Good luck to all of us.

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