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November 05, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, November 05, 2004

Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor (November 05, 2004)

Equal opportunity to catch the flu bug


Thanks so much for your recent coverage of the flu shot issue. The flu vaccine shortage has left many in the community concerned, so it is important to provide as much information as possible.

However, I would like to correct one factual error in the Oct. 22 front-page story "Shortage of flu vaccine hits home" that was mistakenly attributed to the American Lung Association.

The article stated "People who are likely to catch the flu are those with chronic medical conditions, or people who are 65 years old and over, according to the American Lung Association." In fact, everyone shares the same likelihood of catching the flu. Those in the categories you mentioned as well as the very young are more likely of suffering serious, life-threatening complications from the influenza virus, which is why it is so important to administer the limited supply of flu vaccine to high-risk individuals and their caregivers.

We at the American Lung Association would also like to encourage people not to panic about the shortage. The health community is doing everything in its power to ensure that people at risk of serious complications get their flu shots. For everyone else, practicing good health habits during the flu and cold season will help reduce the chances of getting sick.

For more information, visit our Web site at and enter your zip code in the Flu Shot Locator box at the top left. There is a wealth of information available at the site, including a list of those at high risk, symptoms, treatments and ways to stay healthy.

Margo Sidener
Executive Director,
American Lung Association of Santa Clara-San Benito Counties

Hospital sharing vaccine with neediest cases


While it's true that El Camino Hospital was fortunate enough to acquire a supply of flu vaccine this year, the hospital would never "hold onto its doses" and reserve "its stash" as was stated in your Oct. 29 article "Flu vaccine shortage becomes emergency."

The opposite, in fact, is true. Mindful of the public health implications of this flu vaccine shortage, the hospital has not only extended the hours at its RotaCare Clinic, but has been administering the vaccine to 100 to 150 people four days a week at the clinic in addition to scheduled flu shot clinics at various locations in the community that serve the underserved. In all cases, staff follows the criteria set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We have also shared a portion of our flu vaccine supply with several local nursing homes that did not receive any vaccine this year.

In years past, the hospital administered the flu vaccine to any employee and volunteer who wanted to be immunized. This year we are giving the vaccine only to those employees and volunteers who match the CDC guidelines. One of those criteria is persons who provide direct patient care because such persons are considered an important first line of defense against the spread of the flu. Inpatients, whose weakened conditions make them more vulnerable to infectious disease, are also given the vaccine.

As stated in our mission, El Camino Hospital provides services to improve the health and well being of our community. This is especially true during this flu vaccine crisis as we work diligently to provide flu protection to those in our community in most need.

Barbara Avery
Manager of Outreach Medical Services,
El Camino Hospital

Language, basics are key to school performance


After teaching in the Mountain View School District as a credentialed teacher for 35 years, I am now retired. During my years of service, I have been involved in many of the programs designed to help the influx of children from many parts of the world. The families of some of these children have come here with little or no education.

To teach a child English and the basics when his or her background is so thin in academics is never easy. Teachers have worked hard to help these children, but to learn a language well takes many years.

It is not easy to find a solution to the problem of raising low achievement scores. Some methods have failed, and others are still in the process to see how quickly the children will assimilate English. As soon as English is learned, I believe that the scores on the achievement tests will also rise.

We are inching back to the basics and using constant repetition. These are time-proven methods. How else is a foreign language learned but with intent and much repetition? Students need to acquire a bank of useable knowledge by memorizing the facts, and the learning techniques of study and thought.

Forget the frills, the showy-fun atmosphere. The program that is working at schools such as Millikin Elementary in Santa Clara, Faria Elementary in Cupertino and KIPP Heartwood Academy in San Jose is the philosophy that "Return to the Basics" is the way to achieve high scores.

With the possible closing of a district school next year, perhaps teachers at high-scoring schools will have a chance to work with low-performing students. Maybe this is one thing that would make a difference in the final outcome of future scores. Look at the models that work. Take what you know and have, and create your own Faria, Millikin and KIPP Heartwood Academy.

Luz Marie Guerra
S. Rengstorff Avenue

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