Monday, October 26, 2009

Enough Vaccine for All?

by Jason Allentoff

The H1N1 Influenza has been in the news constantly during the last six months. Ever since the first case was reported, it seems like almost daily we're being bombarded with messages about hand washing, the symptoms and now the vaccine. Last week, it was reported nationally that there is a shortage of H1N1 vaccine and federal officials are working to make sure there is enough to go around.

Although production is running several weeks behind schedule, the Ocean County Health Department is confident they will have enough syrum to go around to the high risk groups and to anyone who wants it.

So lets run through the numbers. Ocean County received 3,000 doses of the nasal mist vaccine and 4,000 of the injectible one. They've also ordered 10,000 additional more. Ok so that's 17,000. Early estimates for the 2010 census show the county could have close to 600,000 residents! There's obviously a deficit.

However, Dr. Ella Boyd with the Health Department says not everyone will want or even need to be immunized. She says "as long as 70 percent of the population gets the vaccine, they're counting on something called herd immunity to take care of the rest." She adds "If you have enough people immunized, you end up breaking the chain of transmission and that's what we are hoping for."

Many have been concerned about the safety of getting their kids yet another immunization. Dr. Boyd says "the risks for the swine flu outweigh the possible vaccine side effects."

Health department staffers dispense the stuff to the high risk groups in the form of a shot today at Jackson Liberty High School from 3 - 7:30 p.m. Another clinic is set for Thursday at Southern Regional Middle School from 3 - 7:30 p.m.

For more information, call 732-341-9700 extension 7-5-0-2.

Tomorrow, we conclude our four part series.

Friday, October 23, 2009

H1N1 and Schools

by Jason Allentoff

In part two of our continuing series on the H1N1 influenza, we look at the effect on Ocean County schools and what kind of battle plans the district's have in place in the event of a local epidemic.

Since the very first case of Swine Flu was reported in early April of this year, The Ocean County Health Department immediately went to work to spread the word on prevention efforts among the community and school officials. A new line of immediate communication was formed between administrators and staffers keeping track of all the latest information on cases and what can be done to sanitize desks, school buses and the common areas kids congregate in the walls of the educational facilities.

According to Executive Superintendent Dr. Bruce Greenfield, teachers at all area schools are being asked to work ahead on three weeks of lesson plans just in case they need to take time off to recover in the event they come down with H1N1. Hand washing and hygiene are also a subject for discussion between teacher and student and a series of posters are hanging in the school buildings. Greenfield says although many states have had to close schools because of the Swine Flu, they have every intention of keeping things open but they have a contingency plan in case.

Greenfield says "if schools were forced to close, there would still be a continuity of education in place either through the internet or other new technology that would allow the teacher to connect remotely to the students' homes." Greenfield also urges parents to look into the H1N1 vaccine for their kids as a precautionary measure.

Two injectible clinics will be held next week. The first at Jackson Liberty High School on Monday. The second next Thursday at Southern Regional Middle School. Both run from 3 until 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 732-341-9700 extension 7-5-0-2

Next week, we will look at the H1N1 vaccine in depth and find out why only the high risk groups are getting it right now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 - An Update and Additional Clinics

by Jason Allentoff

On Wednesday, October 21st, The Ocean County Health Department held an afternoon press conference at their Toms River Headquarters. The subject? The H1N1 virus and where we stand at this point. I've been following this story since the very first case of Swine Flu broke out back in April. It almost seems like details change each hour. In the beginning, we were tracking each individual case in the state until it hit such a point that even Health Officials gave up the count. Now, the vaccine is here and in the first part of this four part series, we delve deep into H1-N1 and try to answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

Before April's outbreak, the H1N1 strain appeared in New Jersey back in 1976. The novel swine influenza A caused severe respiratory illness in 13 soldiers at Fort Dix. One person died. The virus did not spread beyond the military base. Now its here - more widespread - and it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon.

On June 11th, the World Health Organization declared the Swine Flu a pandemic, moving the alert level to phase 6, marking the first global pandemic since the 1968 Hong Kong flu.

While the press conference was taking place, scores of concerned residents shuffled in down the hall to be immunized. Health department Epidemiologist Patricia High says information constantly comes in as the flu season enters it's second month. She says "of the influenza-A viruses that have been seen right now, H1N1 is the predominate strain right now not only in Jersey but nationwide."

Two injectible H1N1 vaccine clinics will be held for pregnant women, household contacts and caregivers for kids younger than six months of age, healthcare personnel, all people from 6 months through 24 years of age, and all people ages 25 - 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications for influenza. The first will be Monday, October 26th at Jackson Liberty High School and the second next Thursday, October 29th at Southern Regional Middle School. Both are from 3 p.m. till 7:30 p.m.

Additional nasal mist clinics will be announced soon. Those are for healthy children ages 2 through 18 with no underlying health conditions only.

The symptoms of the virus in people include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. High says a lot of these symptoms are also felt during the regular seasonal flu.
For more information on the H1N1 virus, you can call the state health department's special hotline at 1-866-321-9571. The Ocean County Health Department has been bombarded with calls so unless you need direct information on upcoming clinics, use the state phone line. To reach the local department, call 732-341-9700 extension 7-5-0-2.

The entire health department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise everyone to continue good hygine including hand washing, hand sanitizers, cover your cough or sneeze and stay home from work or school if you're sick.

So where do we stand as of today? So far, 74 countries have officially reported over 399,234 laboratory confirmed cases of the influenza pandemic H1N1 infection, including 4,735 deaths.
Tomorrow, we will look at how school officials in Ocean County are addressing the problem and what steps administrators and teachers are taking to continue the continuity of education.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Toms River Council Meetings Will Soon Be Available On Its Website

By: Rosetta Key

Toms River Township officials are moving fast and furious into the future by soon providing audio and video downloads of its council meetings from the township website.

Mayor Thomas Keleher says presently, they're in negotiations with its cable company Comcast and they're hoping to obtain a technology grant to purchase all the video equipment they need.

Keleher says by offering downloads from its web page, most everyone will be able to access the meetings from anywhere in the world. He says, "We became aware of the fact that not everyone in town has Comcast. Part of the municipality is serviced by Cablevision. Other people have satellite dishes and there are a lot of people who just don't have cable of any type and just rely on general broadcast channels."

In the meantime, plans to allow audio downloads of its council meetings should be available by the end of next week, August 25th, according to a Township press release.

Keleher says he's particularly pleased because of the opportunity it gives to those with special needs. "You know our 'Americans with Disabilities Act Committee' has been asking for this for a while because they particularly are aware of handicapped folks who can not get out and this way they can participate from home."

Keleher says when every thing's up and running, the meetings will be available the day after the meeting.

You can log onto the township website at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ocean County Law Enforcement Officials Investigate a Murder Suicide

By: Rosetta Key

Toms River Police and the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office say the death of a towship woman appears to be a murder-suicide.

The body of 30-year-old Letizia Zindell was discovered around 3:15 this afternoon inside her car on King George Lane at the Penny lane Condominium Complex. Then around 4 p.m. Police Chief Mike Mastronardy says the body of Zindell's ex-fiance, 36-year-old Frank Frisco was found hanging in a loft in a detached garage.

Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford says "It looks like an example of domestic abuse spiraling out of control."

Zindell had a restraining order against Frisco. Ford says Zindell had called off her wedding to Frisco two months ago.

The couple had no children together. Frisco however, was the father of three children from a previous marraige.

Five Monmouth County Towns Are Studying Whether Or Not It Would Be Cost-Effective To Share Some Police Services

Belmar, Bradley Beach, Neptune, Neptune City and Lake Como are getting $75,684 from the state to do a shared services study.

The towns are each paying $2,800 in addition to the state grant.

“We are hoping to find ways of optimizing services, avoiding any duplications of effort, and thereby reducing costs to the taxpayer,” says Bradley Beach Mayor Julie Schreck.

The study will look at possibly sharing a dispatch center, a detective bureau and police duties such as management and patrol as well as fleet maintenance and purchasing.

“We have a chance to look at where it makes sense to share or practices that we might adopt and services that we don’t share, which could also end up saving money for our taxpayers, says Neptune Committeeman Randy Bishop.

Intertech Associates in Freehold and Jersey Professional Management in Cranford are conducting the study.

The results are expected in six to nine months.

By: Janet Fried

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two Lawmakers Are Pushing For Passage Of Legislation They Say Would Protect The Health Of Beachgoers

Us Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank Pallone are sponsoring legislation that would require rapid water quality tests and result in more grant money so states can study where the pollution is coming from.

“This measure will provide funding to further protect our shores from pollution and improve beach water monitoring,” says Senator Frank Lautenberg.

“The Jersey Shore is an invaluable treasure and we need to keep it that way,” says Congressman Frank Pallone.

The legislation was passed by the US House of Representatives in July and passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June.

By: Janet Fried