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School has just started for children throughout the country, as have increased concerns about the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly know as swine flu. In addition to helping students with homework, parents and teachers have the added responsibility of keeping them healthy.
As we move further into the school year and deeper into flu season, AmeriCares is working hard to protect students and families against H1N1 and related infections. Since the beginning of the swine flu outbreak, AmeriCares has been sending infection control supplies such as masks, disinfectants and gloves to free clinics across the country. AmeriCares has also been delivering millions of dollars worth of medicines to treat flu symptoms and complications, such as pneumonia, that can quickly turn deadly. What’s more, we’re working with health care providers here at home and around the world on emergency outbreak preparedness.
AmeriCares also plays a special role in supporting health care in areas affected by serious disasters. To help neighborhoods thoughout New Orleans still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, AmeriCares donated a mobile medical unit to the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. The mobile medical unit provides children with free immunizations against childhood and other infectious diseases in collaboration with local hospitals and community groups.
“A fully immunized child is better protected against the flu and its serious consequences, such as pneumonia” said Dr. Frank Bia, medical director at AmeriCares and an expert in infectious diseases. “As we approach the back-to-school and flu seasons, it is critical to ensure children and adults remain healthy and fully immunized so they can fight off the H1N1 virus and other illnesses.” Part of this preventive strategy involves complete childhood vaccinations and education about how the flu is spread, its symptoms and what can be done to stop it. Read What You Need to Know About Swine Flu, a Q & A with Dr. Bia.In the past, Louisiana has had one of the lowest immunization rates in the United States. Since the donation, the mobile medical unit has been busy vaccinating children from birth to age 18 in record numbers. During one recent session, vaccinations were administered to 195 patients. Weekly totals of vaccinations are as high as 750, a number that exceeds what the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans used to average in an entire month.
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