Swine Flu and Kids

Children are considered to be some of the most vulnerable in the population to contract the H1N1 virus. Because of that — the group children at risk is reaching out to school administrators and child service providers to be on the front lines combating the swine flu. Laurie Johnson has more.

At the offices of the United Way, dozens of people are gathered in a conference room where the city's health officials are sharing information on the H1N1 virus.

Among them is Dr. Jeffrey Starke, the chief of pediatrics at Ben Taub Hospital. He says the one thing they know for sure about the swine flu, is they don't really know anything for sure about the swine flu.

"Boy this flu is unprecedented, completely different. It was here all summer. It never went away, so I would be lying if I said I, or anybody, could predict exactly what's going to go on over the next couple of months."

What health officials do know about the virus is that it's highly contagious, especially among children.

Dr. David Persse is the public health authority for the city of Houston. He says his job is to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

"What we're preparing for is going to be a high number of children who become ill and then in turn spread that throughout the community."

Persse says if they can slow the spread of swine flu in pediatric patients, the rest of the population will be safer.

"Keep children that are ill out of the general population of kids so they stay home with their parents if possible. And we do everything we can to keep the kids hands clean and that we try to teach the kids the proper way to sneeze or to cough."

Health officials at the conference said most people should take the precaution of getting both the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...