Hub drafts swine flu response
By Edward Mason and Richard Weir
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 – Updated 8h ago
City officials are devising emergency plans to vaccinate thousands of schoolchildren against deadly swine flu as the Hub and other cities statewide brace for a perfect pandemic storm.
“We are preparing plans in case we need to do mass vaccinations in schools across the city,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, told the Herald.
The Hub attack plan comes as state officials announced yesterday that an eleventh Massachusetts resident died from the swine flu, an unidentified 26-year-old Dukes County resident.
Boston officials had been reluctant to inoculate children because two in-school clinics last year were lightly attended, Ferrer said. But they are reconsidering in case they must rapidly inoculate kids against a fast-moving swine flu or if the city’s first line of defense – hospitals and physicians – become overwhelmed by demand for life-saving vaccines.
Boston is preparing for a flu onslaught in which swine and seasonal flu viruses strike thousands.
“We are really anticipating that there may be as many as 20 percent of the residents of Boston who will be infected with influenza-like illness this fall,” Ferrer said at a morning press conference.
At the conference, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced he’s giving all city workers two paid hours off to get influenza and swine flu vaccines, in an effort to halt the deadly swine pandemic that already has struck 480 citywide and killed four Hub residents.
“This will not only benefit the key personnel, like teachers and public safety officials,” Menino told reporters, “but also the thousands of city employees who live in our neighborhoods.”
Menino also announced he’s convening a swine flu summit Friday of business, community and public health leaders to craft the city’s plan.
Worcester has convened a task force to devise strategies to vaccinate children, expectant mothers and other vulnerable people, while spreading word on preventing flu. Lowell and Salem are among smaller cities already with school shot plans ready to go.
Swine flu – Aug. 18, 2009: