Georgia prepares for Swine Flu vaccinations - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia prepares for Swine Flu vaccinations

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The number of confirmed swine flu cases in the United States has jumped to 64.  Georgia still has no confirmed cases, but the state's Division of Health requested its share of antiviral drugs from the federal government.

Local health departments across the state expect to get some of that supply. Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation that would make it easier to get a flu shot by allowing pharmacists and nurses to give them.

The Obama Administration also asked Congress for $1.5 billion to combat flu.

When it comes to the Swine Flu, Georgia is hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Health officials say it's not surprising the number of cases has jumped.

"As more people who have recently traveled recognize that they have symptoms, of course they're going to be tested so, we're going to be seeing a spike," said Southwest Georgia Public Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.

While Georgia hasn't confirmed a case, health officials aren't waiting. The Division of Health asked the federal government for their share of the stockpile of antiviral drugs. "They have requested the 25 percent of the state's supply of the anti-virals.

And they've placed their own order for Tamiflu and Relenza. "The state has actually ordered additional doses as well," said  Grant.

The local health department is also trying to convey a clear message to the public and its partners, by contacting schools like Dougherty County and emphasizing good hygiene practices.

"Our nurses and Phoebe have provided through partners hand washing stations in all of our schools and we're encouraging their use regularly especially with this threat potential," said DCSS Public Information Officer R. D. Harter.

Carnival Cruise Lines suspended stops at Mexican ports and travel agents say travelers need to decide whether they think it's safe to travel to Mexico.

"Most of the major tour operators are allowing people to postpone their trips possibly rebook them to alternate destinations," said Dennis Fenton of Your Travel Connection.

Health officials say they're prepared to take the next step if more needs to be done like opening an operations center or requiring large gatherings to be canceled.

The Southwest Georgia Health Department is readying a list of employees that could be called in the middle of the night to open an operations center if it becomes necessary.