The Jim Thorpe Area School District wants to offer the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine to students and staff.

Those school directors attending a public school board meeting Monday voted in favor of applying for an H1N1 provider contract, making Jim Thorpe the latest school district to plan to provide the voluntary protection. The Lehighton Area School District also has decided to apply for the vaccine.

Superintendent Barbara Conway said school officials are waiting to receive verification from the state (Department of Health) as to whether and when the vaccine will arrive.

"We have everything ready to go," she said.

Parents and guardians will receive information, evaluation forms and consent forms in the mail.

The district is getting the paperwork ready to go at a moment's notice.

"If we're notified on a Monday that we will get the vaccines on a Friday," we want to be ready, Conway said. "This is strictly voluntary. We are trying to provide this service to our parents" if they want it.

sent form and fill out an evaluation to make sure their children are able to take the vaccine.

People who are allergic to eggs, for example, are advised not to take the vaccine.

H1N1, which broke out in the United States in April, is now widespread in 37 states, including Pennsylvania, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga. So far, there have been about 1 million cases of the flu in the United States. Between Aug. 30 and Oct. 3, 12,384 people had been hospitalized with H1N1 in the United States; 1,544 had died.

As of Oct. 9, there have been 2,973 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Health.

DOH advises schools to follow a set of guidelines established for H1N1. They include advising students and staff to stay home if they are sick; keeping students and staff who become ill while at school or who arrive ill separated from the general population; encouraging students and staff to wash their hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing; educating students and staff to use tissues to cover their mouths and noses while coughing or sneezing, then immediately disposing of the tissue in a waste can; cleaning all surfaces that have regular contact with hands, such as desks and keyboards; early treatment for high-risk students and staff (including those who have chronic illnesses, are pregnant or are young children).