Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a serious warning Tuesday about the H1N1 flu virus, predicting that one in four Californians -- or about 9 million people -- may get the bug this fall and winter.
"It could take thousands of lives," Schwarzenegger said during a visit to a state lab in Richmond that analyzes H1N1 cases. "I don't want to alarm people, but this is not a typical flu."
Schwarzenegger said the federal government has told California that a vaccine for H1N1 will be available by mid-October.
The governor anticipates the largest vaccination effort in California since shots to combat polio were administered in the 1950s.
Dr. Mark Horton, California's health officer, also emphasized the potential danger of the H1N1 virus.
"This is a novel virus," Horton said. "We expect widespread infections. Millions will get sick, thousands will have to be hospitalized and some will die."
Schwarzenegger is asking state lawmakers to release $46 million in federal funds that will be used to help the Richmond lab prepare for the expected flu outbreak.
The state set up
to allow doctors, clinics and others to register to receive a supply of the vaccine.
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