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Pandemic Preparations Update

August 20, 2009

System for mass inoculation coming into shape. Schools likely to open on time.

The first of the New Flu clinics. This one is located at 78 Solonos St p/c George Mesthos

The first of the New Flu clinics. This one is located at 78 Solonos St p/c George Mesthos

Officials in Athens have announced the pecking (or shall we say, pricking) order for the first swine flu jabs, opened the first H1N1 flu clinic and have nearly cleared schools to open on-time as they prepare for a possible pandemic.

The first round of vaccines will go out to five different groups. Group one will include medical personnel, pregnant women, and people who take care of small children (parents, grandmothers, and nannies). People with pre-existing healthy ailments such as heart disease and diabetes make up the second group. The last three groups go by age; 18-49 in group 3, 50-64 in group 4 and over 65 in group 5.

Children under the age of 18 years-old will not receive a flu jab in the first round because they require a different vaccine that takes longer to develop and may not be available until January.

The first inoculations (8 million doses, or enough for 4 million people, have already been ordered) will be given out at a series of designated health clinics. On Thursday August 20, the Mayor of Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanis, and Minister of Health, Dimitris Avramapoulos, toured the first facility, located at 78 Solonos St behind the National University.

Kaklamanis said the city and ministry of health came to an agreement on the use of seven facilities over a year ago for general medical purposes, before the clinics were needed for a possible pandemic.

The mayor also announced that there will be education sessions for daycares and kindergarten teachers on September 2nd and 3rd to show them how to handle children in light of the disease.

“They will receive an envelope with their instructions,” Kaklamanis said. “I hope they won’t need to be used, but if they do, we’ll be ready.”

The National Science and Operational Council for Pandemic Influenza announced on Wednesday that there was “no reason” to keep schools from opening on September 11 as planned.

That may change, next week however as the criteria for school closures are considered. The final decision will come from the health and education ministries.

According to the Hellenic Center for Disease Control there have been over 1,600 H1N1 cases in Greece. There have been over 40,000 cases in all of Europe. More than 7,500 people have been hospitalized in the United States and nearly 500 have died.

This news brief will appear in tomorrow’s edition of Athens News.

Other Links

Ta Nea: Who gets the jabs (Greek)

In.gr: Schools likely to open on-time (Greek)

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