Schwarzenegger warns of coming flu season

September 1, 2009 7:28:08 PM PDT
Flanked by top state health officials, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger predicted the coming flu season could kill "thousands of Californians."

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"We know it's going to happen," Schwarzenegger said. "As many as one in four Californians could get the H1N1 virus. That means 9 million people. Think about that."

The governor's comments came during a tour of the California's state-of-the-art public health lab in Richmond. The lab plays a critical role in detecting and monitoring the H1N1 virus in the Bay Area and across the country.

"Working together, we are prepared to confront the challenged of the H1N1 virus," Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kim Belshe said.

Belshe stressed that for the vast majority of people, the symptoms will be mild to moderate.

California has spent $172 million preparing for the H1N1 virus, including plans for a mass vaccination program. But the vaccine itself will not be available until mid-October.

In Contra Costa County, health officials say they have a plan in place. As soon as the swine flu vaccine becomes available, they are ready to get it to their most vulnerable residents.

"We're working with health care providers across the county to make sure they get the H1N1 vaccine and can administer it to their patients and the community and Contra Costa Public Health in particular is going to do 50 school-based clinics at elementary schools throughout Contra Costa," Contra Costa Public Health Department spokesperson Erika Jenssen said.

School children are considered especially vulnerable because of the easy spread of germs.

So far 125 Californians have died from the virus, which was first detected last spring and continued to spread through the summer months.

LINK: California Department of Public Health swine flu information
LINK: Contra Costa County Health Services

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