City of Alexandria, VA
August 17, 2009
Governor Kaine Announces Expanded H1N1 Call Center Support
Increase Coincides With Opening of Schools
Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is expanding its call center to handle questions that Virginians may have about the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. The toll-free number is 1-877-275-8343 and will be answered during state business hours. The department will adjust hours as necessary to accommodate call volume. Virginians also are able to ask questions via e-mail through the VDH home page at www.vdh.virginia.gov. State Health Commissioner Karen Remley, M.D., MBA, said the call center’s increased operations coincide with the opening of public schools across the state this month.
“We are anticipating that public awareness of the novel H1N1 virus and interest in protecting children from the virus will increase as students return to school and broaden their social interaction,” Governor Kaine said. “Our Health Department will stay on top of the situation and continue to make information easily available.”
The novel H1N1 virus has differed significantly from the seasonal flu in its effect upon school children and young adults. This population has contracted the H1N1 virus in higher numbers than usually is seen with the seasonal flu.
An important message for parents of school children as well as faculty and school staff is to stay home if they have novel H1N1 symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat or fatigue. A person with such influenza-like illness should stay home until they have been without a fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Infected adults and children still can be contagious even after they begin to feel better. Commissioner Remley also urged families to have an emergency care plan in the event a child is sent home from school due to illness while parents are at work.
The call center is part of a federally-funded program developed by the health department to prepare for and respond to the novel H1N1 virus. In addition to public education and outreach activities, other aspects of the state’s program involve disease surveillance and laboratory testing, community mitigation, antiviral distribution, vaccination (including expanded use of the state’s immunization information system) and enhanced coordination of the state’s health care delivery capabilities.
“Every Virginian has a role to play in protecting our population and containing the spread and impact of this disease,” Commissioner Remley said. As schools begin opening across the Commonwealth, the Commissioner urged parents to: