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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: swine flu

Now everyone under 65 can get H1N1 vaccine

Idaho public health officials have decided to open up the H1N1 swine flu vaccine to everyone under age 65 immediately, including healthy adults. This after vaccines through the season thus far have been limited to specific high-risk groups; the flu strain has contributed to the deaths of 17 Idahoans so far. Click below for details from the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare. People 65 and over will be able to get the vaccine in the coming weeks, the department said.

Idaho ‘nowhere near’ on H1N1 vaccine goals

So far, Idaho has been allocated 165,200 doses of H1N1 swine flu, state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn reported to lawmakers this morning. Normally, about a third of the state’s 1.5 million residents are vaccinated for seasonal flu. Hahn said even if that were the goal - and the state would like to vaccinate many more residents than that - “we are nowhere near.”

Flu impacts Idaho schools

Idaho education officials are bracing for a raft of waiver requests from school districts that have seen student attendance suffer from the flu - and don’t want the drop in attendance to hurt their district’s state funding. Idaho bases its funding allocation to districts for the first half of the year on average daily attendance reports for the first seven weeks of school - the very time when the H1N1 flu, in many cases, has dramatically impacted school attendance. That attendance report also affects school staffing levels for the year.

“We did spike about a week ago - we had a couple schools that had up to 25 and 30 percent absentee,” said Coeur d’Alene School District Superintendent Hazel Bauman. Attendance is now back up, she said, but “it has reached that threshold … We will be submitting a request for a waiver.” So will Post Falls, Lakeland, and Meridian schools and many more. Melissa McGrath, spokeswoman for the Idaho State Department of Education, said such waiver requests normally are very rare. The department typically receives only about one a year, usually driven by an early snow day or some such unusual event. This year, however, it’s already received one request, from the South Lemhi School District in eastern Idaho (for a “significant drop in attendance as a result of the flu” for two weeks in October), and it’s heard from many more than have them in the works. You can read my full story here at

Back from the depths of the flu…

Well, that was pretty awful. I don’t know if the H1N1 is really worse than seasonal flu, because I’ve gotten a flu shot every year for at least the past 10 and haven’t had the seasonal flu. But I sure don’t remember anything quite this bad. Worst part: The first night, with the fever, chills and aches. I feel fortunate to be done with it in less than a week; I’ve heard of others suffering longer. Thing that helped the most: Sipping ice water. Constantly. And sleep. So out of it I didn’t even turn on the computer for three days! Glad to be returned to health and back in the land of the living; still taking it a bit easy.

Idaho orders first H1N1 vaccines

Today was the first day the National Centers for Disease Control accepted orders for H1N1 flu vaccine, and Idaho got its order in - for 9,000 doses. They’re expected to start arriving early next week, going directly to hospitals, community health centers and public health districts. State epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said, “There is going to be a very limited supply of H1N1 vaccine available during the first weeks of shipments, so initially vaccination will not be widely available to everyone recommended to receive it. Eventually, we hope there will be enough for everyone who wants to be vaccinated.” First priority will go to pregnant women, children, health care workers and people at high risk because of other medical conditions.

BSU confirms first swine flu case

Boise State University has confirmed its first case of H1N1 flu, or swine flu, and the patient is a student who lives in the residence halls. “Most cases to date have been mild and people have recovered quickly,” the university reports; BSU also is in the midst of a campaign to help faculty, staff, students and the community cope with the flu season and prevent infection. Click below to read their full announcement. This after Washington State University in Pullman made headlines last week with the nation’s highest number of campus swine flu cases, at 2,500 - more than a third of the college student cases nationwide. Learn more about swine flu, its symptoms, and how to prevent infection here at

No one’s definition of fun: Swine flu outbreak at Idaho prison

Did you know that the influenza virus can survive on surfaces for two to eight hours, spreading the disease? That’s what the CDC says, and the warden of Idaho’s privately operated prison, Phillip Valdez of the Idaho Correctional Center, says he has no “no idea how we got it” at the prison south of Boise, where at least 13 inmates have been sickened so far with the H1N1 virus - swine flu - and all visitors and volunteers have been shut out for at least two weeks. “You know, I wish we could pinpoint it - it sure would make it easier,” Valdez told Eye on Boise. “But I think, to be honest with you, we’re all susceptible to it. You and I could go to a Wal-Mart store, shake a hand, touch a doorknob.” The ICC has been sanitized with cleaning chemicals from top to bottom, inmates have been educated about hygiene, and Valdez says none of the sickened inmates thus far has suffered complications. All those with the virus have suffered from high fevers that peaked on the third day; all have been quarantined.

At the ICC, which is operated for the state by Correctional Corp. of America, there are beds for 1,805 Idaho inmates, including 708 in open dormitories, in which 59 inmates share a single large dorm unit filled with bunk beds. Others are housed in two-man cells. Before the ICC outbreak was first reported July 14, one inmate at the South Idaho Correctional Institution Community Work Center, a state-operated facility also located south of Boise, tested positive for the swine flu virus in late June. That inmate was moved to an isolation unit. You can read my full story here from Saturday’s Spokesman-Review.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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