Swine flu vaccine likely to be in schools this fall
Health officials are preparing for the possibility of a nationwide vaccine program to ward off the so-called swine flu this fall. WFAE's Julie Rose reports. The North Carolina Department of Health is already in talks with public school officials to determine how it will vaccinate the state's children if the U.S. Government implements a nationwide program. A vaccine for the H1N1 virus is not yet available, but U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says a vaccine program is likely this flu season. Right now she says the CDC is monitoring the current flu season in the Southern Hemisphere - where it's winter - to anticipate how the U.S. might be hit. "The flu has not gotten more lethal - that's the good news. It still seems to be presenting as a relatively mild flu," said Sebelius in a conference call with reporters Friday. "Having said that, we're still watching it transmit very rapidly and easily. It is targeting a younger population - I think the average age is about 15 - uh very different from seasonal flu." Starting today, Sebelius says $350 million in grants is available to states and hospitals for swine flu preparations and prevention. The CDC estimates 1 million Americans already have the virus. Health officials say the Carolinas are currently experiencing a second flu season comprised entirely of the H1N1 virus. The CDC reports 255 confirmed cases of swine flu and two deaths in North Carolina. South Carolina has 160 cases, but no deaths. All have occurred since May 16th and officials say they're just a fraction of people with the virus - most who have it don't see a doctor.