Declaration of emergency over swine flu
By Robin Scott
On October 25th, President Barack Obama declared the second wave of the swine flu outbreak a National emergency. The greatest effect the declaration has on the medical community is the right to move emergency facilities off-site from hospitals, to accommodate more individuals and keep the population infected with the H1N1 virus segregated from non-infected individuals.
Part of the decision to make the declaration was the inability to produce the vaccination in the quantities believed necessary. Production delays are thought to lead to more outbreak. An estimated 1,000 people in the United States have died from the illness, including as many as 100 children.
At the time of Obama’s declaration, only 11 million doses of the vaccine had gone out to health care facilities. Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may now circumvent federal rules before making the decision to open an emergency treatment center for victims of the swine flu. Facilities will likely get set up in schools and community centers upon a hospital’s request. Another major change is that a patient may not be required to provide as much information before receiving initial assessment and treatment, in hopes of quickening the treatment process. Other rules regarding reimbursement by a hospital for treatment of a swine flu patient may be changed from the ordinary rules. All of the changes that come about from the declaration are designed to get people treated more efficiently.
According to the Texas Department of State Health and Services, about 2 million doses of the swine flu vaccination have been allocated to Texas by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The DSHS has set up a special website just for the H1N1 virus at www.texasflu.org.
DSHS recommends that everyone get vaccinated with the flu shot, as well as the H1N1 vaccination, as soon as it becomes available. They also continue to warn people to wash hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home when sick and have a plan of care for family members that become sick.
Due to the small amount of the H1N1 vaccine available, doses are being reserved for young children and pregnant women. Once great quantities of the vaccine become available other high priority groups will be able to obtain the shot. At some point, the DSHS is hopeful that anyone wishing to get the vaccination will be able to.
The DSHS website will provide updates frequently, including notifying people when more vaccinations are available.