For Immediate Release
August 24, 2009

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Kansas leaders come together for
Governor's H1N1 Pandemic Influenza Summit

In preparation for an expected escalation of H1N1 pandemic flu, leaders from across Kansas are coming together today for the Governor’s H1N1 Pandemic Influenza Summit.

More than 700 stakeholders from key sectors throughout the state will attend this event to compare notes and finalize plans to counter the threats expected from the novel H1N1 Influenza A virus as the coming flu season gets underway in Kansas.

Today, under the Governor’s leadership, top-level managers in public health, hospitals, emergency medical services, schools, agriculture, faith-based organizations, emergency management, government, public safety, and businesses are taking part in this Summit to discuss their planning efforts to protect the state during the fall and winter flu season.

“We in government are aware of the risks that the H1N1 flu presents and we are taking the problem seriously,” said Governor Mark Parkinson. “State agencies, like the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, along with local health departments and hospitals are working closely together to be sure we are ready for the fall flu season.”

While the H1N1 illness in Kansas has been relatively mild to date, numerous Kansans have been hospitalized and one person has died.  Based on what is happening in the southern hemisphere, it’s likely that an escalation of cases will occur here in the coming months.  Without a successful vaccination program, as much as 20–40 percent of the Kansas population could expect to be infected over the next two years.  Many of those cases could be compressed into “waves” of infection lasting several weeks.

At this time, clinical trials for H1N1 vaccine are underway, with plans for the vaccine to be available in Kansas sometime in October or possibly sooner. 

If approved, the H1N1 vaccine will initially be made available to individuals in certain groups, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.  These groups have been identified as having the highest risk of severe illness with the H1N1 virus.   Depending upon the initial availability of the vaccine, further prioritization may have to be done within these initial groups.   The groups identified in the guidance are as follows:

Leaders from every county in Kansas were invited to participate in today’s flu summit, which is being held in a Topeka conference center and broadcast to other locations across the state.  It is sponsored by the Office of the Governor, the Adjutant General’s Department/Kansas Division of Emergency Management, the Kansas State Department of Education, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment, and the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Those speaking at the Summit include Governor Mark Parkinson; Roderick Bremby, Secretary of Health and Environment; Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas Adjutant General; Alexa Posny, Kansas Commissioner of Education; Col. Terry Maple, Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol; Claudia Blackburn, Sedgwick County Health Director; and Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of Health for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.  Speakers will also include local health leaders and business partners.