DOVER – Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware health experts said Wednesday that state agencies are working together to prepare for this year’s flu season and encouraged Delawareans to take precautions to protect themselves and their families and limit the spread of viruses.
Health officials have been working since this spring’s outbreak of the H1N1 flu strain to be ready when the flu season begins in the fall.
“Preparing for and preventing H1N1 is something everyone in Delaware needs to be part of,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “Everyone should know how best to prevent getting the flu, and plan in advance what you will do in the event that you do become ill. we’re preparing, that we will be here to help you, but we also need you to prepare as well. In doing so, we will all help one another.”
Officials urged Delawareans to take common-sense steps, such as washing their hands and covering the mouths when coughing, to prevent contraction and spread of the flu. Delawareans are also urged to stay home from work or school when sick.
The Division of Public is preparing to have additional flu clinics open this season to provide traditional flu vaccines as well as targeted vaccines from H1N1, and will be working with medical providers schools to increase the public’s awareness.
“By staying informed, and by being vaccinated if you are so advised, you will help protect the health of our entire state,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health.
Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery said the Department is working to get out messages to parents and staff regarding ways to avoid getting the flu or sharing it with others. Those include practicing healthy habits (sleep, nutrition, etc.), practicing good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene and not sending children to school if they have a fever or other symptoms of being ill.
The Department of Education and the Division of Public Health are working on plans now for the voluntary vaccination of school children, who are at risk for the H1N1 virus.
“Schools want to help students and families to be safe. The Department of Education and all of our 200-plus schools will continue to collaborate with state agencies, school communities, families and children to do what is best for kids,” Lowery said.