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Virginia Prepares for Swine Flu Outbreak

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Virginia is developing a statewide vaccination plan to deal with an expected outbreak of swine flu this fall. Democratic Governor Tim Kaine visited Tucker Elementary School in Alexandria.

He says the state's flu plan will be based on the expectation that the vaccine will be available by the end of October. "Anybody who wants vaccination - and it would be voluntary - could get vaccinated over the course of about a two-month period."

Kaine says the plan will focus on five areas: "Surveillance or monitoring, just to determine where we're seeing incidences of H1N1 in the Commonwealth; vaccination, to prevent infection; mitigating the impact of the disease once people do become infected; communicating, to make sure the public receives timely and accurate information about what to do, and finally direct clinical care when it it necessary and appropriate."

Virginia expects to be able to offer the vaccine to anyone, but is strongly encouraging pregnant women and children to get inoculated. State Health Commissioner Karen Remley says school closings will not be a part of the plan, as they were in the spring. "It is not a time to work through your illness. We're advising faculty, staff, parents and students to stay at home if they don't feel good."

After a handwashing demo by the 4th graders, the Governor did pick up some pointers. "I didn't put enough soap on, I didn't wash my hands long enough, and I learned from them, oh yeah, wrap the paper towel around your hand when you're turning off the faucet."

The Centers for Disease Control say the symptoms of swine flu are similar to regular seasonal flu and can include fever, lack of appetite and coughing. Some also report having a runny nose, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea.

Stephanie Kaye reports...


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