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Pandemic flu taught schools health lessons
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi schools should benefit from all they learned during last year’s H1N1 pandemic flu.
Jane Clary, health specialist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said even though the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, schools should keep flu prevention efforts in place for the upcoming season.
“Last year, there were a lot of programs to educate people to wash their hands more often, to cough and sneeze into their sleeves and to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of the flu virus,” she said. “Those are all good practices to keep people healthy every year.”
Clary said schools need to make sure they have a good supply of paper towels and soap. If soap is not available, schools should provide alcohol-based hand gels. Plenty of tissues should be available in each classroom. Students should learn to cough and sneeze into their sleeves or a tissue.
“When the new flu vaccine comes out this fall, students, teachers and those in at-risk categories should consider getting one,” Clary said.
Liz Sharlot, director of communications for the Mississippi State Department of Health, said unlike last year, only one vaccine will be necessary this year. It will contain protection for the novel H1N1 strain.
“We needed two vaccines last year because scientists detected the H1N1 virus strain after the seasonal flu vaccine was developed,” Sharlot said. “We should be able to treat this year more like a traditional flu season.”
Sharlot said that although flu reports are low at this time, thorough hand washing and hygiene etiquette are a important throughout the year.