By Zahid Arab - bio | email
HONOLULU (KHNL) - A panel of top scientists that advises President Obama says this flu season, 30-50% of the country could be infected by the H1N1 Virus. The panel says 30,000-90,000 Americans could die. They are mostly children and young adults as opposed to a typical flu season where most deaths involve the frail and elderly.
Talk of the H1N1 may be dwindling, but health officials say the threat is still there, especially for Hawaii. With an influx of infected patients expected this fall, there's focus on making the vaccine available.
Quieting in other parts of the country, cases of swine flu in Hawaii are climbing. We went to a town hall meeting on health care to see if people are concerned. We met Noland. He educates his son Evan on hygiene daily. The usual stuff.
"Wash hands before you go to school? Wash hands after you go to school?" asked Honolulu resident Noland Kaolowi.
Others don't worry. They say swine is just a stronger form of the seasonal flu.
"It might be worse this year than normal, but I don't think it's worth panicking about," said Honolulu resident Jeff Lohr.
But Hawaii's healthcare system is already burdened to begin with.
"My concern is we'll start to see burn out both in personnel and resources," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.
If the problem intensifies, hospitals may section off emergency rooms among other plans to reduce the risk of further infections.
"It will take a situation that's already bad and make it worse because we have so many people without insurance," said Honolulu resident Rachel Orange.
That's where washington steps in. Health officials sent a letter to all state medical providers this week asking them to pre-register for the swine flu's free federal vaccine. School children and pregnant women will get priority. But, calling this possible pandemic or just panic at this point, is still unpredictable.
"It's kind of like the boy who cried wolf. People are like ohh we heard about Swine flu, it's not a big deal, we'll be fine. But it could be really bad," said Orange.