Phila. schools lay out swine flu plans

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - September 3, 2009

Today health officials, school adminstrators, and school nurses discussed their plans to keep kids safe.

The city of Philadelphia is expected to get 1.2 million doses of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

Trials on the vaccine are still underway, so it's not known whether 1 or 2 doses will be required to get adequate protection. Health officials said this morning that people receiving the vaccine won't have full immunity until about a month after they receive the shot.

And city health and school officials said in a news conference today, it's likely we'll see cases of the virus at local schools, before the vaccine is available.

That's why officials say everyone needs to be prepared.

Dr. Donald Schwarz, the city's health commissioner, says, "We will need to rely on parents and families to plan as we have planned."

A letter will go home with students of Philadelphia schools next week outlining the school's plan.

And things parents can do - such as teaching kids to cover their coughs and wash their hands.

The school district has also ordered hand sanitizers for every school.

Parents are asked to keep sick kids home...until at least 24 hours after a fever passes.

"We know that unless every parent thinks about what he or she will do to be responsible to keep a sick child at home, we will not be able to succeed," says Dr. Schwarz.

Schools administrators will also be monitoring absentee levels.

School nurses also have a plan. They met today to discuss how they'll handle the H1N1 virus.

The goal is to isolate the sick kids until they'll better... and keep healthy students in the classroom.

The C-E-O of the district made it clear, "closure is our last resort."

Once the vaccine does get here, kids will be encouraged to get the shot from their private doctor. But schools will also offer the vaccine.

"We want to make this as convenient as possible to parents and students," says Dr. Schwarz.

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