School vaccinations to begin after holiday

Published 11:45 pm Monday, November 23, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
H1N1 flu vaccination clinics in schools, delayed because of the slow arrival of the vaccines, will begin the week after Thanksgiving, health department officials announced this week.
The first round of nasal flu mist vaccines will be administered on a volunteer basis to kindergarten through third-grade students.
In addition, a flu vaccine clinic will be held at 9 a.m. Monday at the Brewton and Atmore offices of the Escambia County Health Department. Limited quantities of the vaccine will be available for pregnant women, household and caregiver contacts of children younger than 6 months old; health care and emergency services personnel; persons aged 4 to 25 years; and individuals 25 to 64 who have an underlying health condition.
Ricky Elliott, director of the Escambia County Health Department, said the health department had not received any of the injectable vaccine for babies and toddlers, so there would be none available at the Monday clinic.
The nasal mist vaccine to be administered at the schools is sprayed into each nostril and is not an injection; it does not contain thimerosol or other preservatives, health department officials said.
Elliott said the school clinics are starting with kindergarten through third-grade students because that age group will need two rounds of the vaccine.
Schools sent parental consent forms home last week, and the health department will begin reviewing them next week to determine how many teams of nurses each school will need.
Several nurses have volunteered to help with the clinics, Elliott said. Although they may not be needed for the first round of vaccinations, the health department plans to hold more school clinics as more vaccine becomes available.
The second dose of vaccine can be administered about four weeks after the first vaccine.
Escambia County Schools Superintendent Billy Hines said the school system is making the schools available for the health department, which will be running the clinics.
Only students with signed parental permission forms will be given the H1N1 nasal mist vaccine, and no fees will be charged.
Children with compromised immune systems should receive the H1N1 injectable vaccine rather than the flu mist, health officials said. But for other children, either form of the vaccine is safe, Williamson said.
According to the health department, the flu vaccine was created in the same way the regular flu vaccine is created each year; this is simply a different strain.
High risk groups who should receive the vaccine include pregnant women, children and people with underlying health conditions, health officials have said.

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