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H1N1: Get the Facts

Compiled by Emilie Openchowski

Health officials are expecting the start of the school year in a few weeks to go hand in hand with a surge in cases of the H1N1 flu virus. Experts say the best way to protect yourself and your students from an outbreak (and a school closing) is to wash your hands as often as possible, clean everything thoroughly, and be on the lookout for symptoms (fever, cough, nausea—your basic signs of the flu).

Those are the common sense facts. Here are some lesser-known facts about the first influenza pandemic in 41 years:

Children under nine may need two shots of the vaccination. And it will take several weeks after completing the vaccination for immunity to be complete.

The H1N1 flu vaccination is expected to be available to schools and communities around mid-October.
The United States Department of Education says more than 700 schools in half the states (of 132,000 public and private schools) closed last year because of the H1N1 virus.
Officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advise that infected students, teachers and administrators should stay home at least 24 hours after their fever breaks. This time period has gone down from the seven days that was previously recommended last spring.
A Miami Herald article published on August 8, 2009, reported that there have been 6,506 hospitalizations of Americans for H1N1 flu, but officials estimate that more than a million have been infected.
The CDC reports that nearly three-quarters of the confirmed and probable cases in America have occurred in people younger than 25.
The average distance between people in schools is three feet, but Dr. Matthew Cartter, the Connecticut state epidemiologist, told the Hartford Courant that health officials recommend a distance of six feet to prevent spreading the flu.