Are We Prepared?

The swine flu outbreak is spreading but the production of the vaccine is not keeping up. That prompts President Barack Obama to declare a national emergency. Meanwhile, two Texas lawmakers came to Houston to hold a Congressional briefing on the H1N1 virus. They discussed the local, state and national response. Pat Hernandez has the story.

The briefing held at Houston city hall was conducted by Texas lawmakers including democratic representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee and Gene Green of Houston. In attendance were representatives from Homeland Security and national, state and local public health officials. Dr. James Morgan with the Texas Health Department updated Congresswoman Lee on how the state is responding.

"We've been allocated as of Friday afternoon, 1.2-million doses of vaccines from the CDC. We have to check their website on a daily basis, to see what's available to Texas."

Jackson-Lee: "Do you have a large number that you believe you need to have in the state of Texas?"

Morgan: "We believe it's gonna take all 12-thousand plus of the providers that have signed up. Now as far as the vaccine goes, we do expect to get the full 15-million, which we expect should cover everyone who wants to get vaccinated."
      
After President Obama signed the national emergency declaration, it cleared the way for hospitals to provide more accessible care to those seeking the vaccine. But Dr. Joan Shook of Texas Children's Hospital told the hearing precautions for hospital staff need to be clarified.

"The rule being that you have to stay out seven days after the onset of an influenza-like illness. The problems with it is, the tests are very unreliable. If the emergency nursing staff for example, has to stay out for seven days from the onset of upper respiratory symptoms, we would have to close our emergency department."

While hospitals here say they're staying on top of the virus, more than a dozen people in the Houston area have died from the swine flu.

PH, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News
 

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...