Student H1N1 vaccination clinics begin today

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 7:45am

System-wide H1N1 vaccination clinics will begin today in Metro Schools with students at Antioch’s Edison Elementary the first to receive the free doses from the Metro Health Department.

Although plans include spreading the clinics across the school system, only two have been scheduled so far – today’s at Edison and another at Lakeview Elementary on Friday.

Officials are waiting on an adequate supply of vaccine before scheduling vaccinations, Noelle Mashburn, spokesperson for Metro Schools said.

“It’s knowing what we have and when we have it,” she said. “There’s no firm list of clinics. They’re scheduled as vaccine becomes available.”

Parents concerned about when clinics will be scheduled at their children’s schools should wait for a call from individual schools, Mashburn said.

Health department spokesperson Brian Todd said parents are notified as soon a clinic is scheduled but sometimes that’s only a two-day notice.

Health department and school officials worked together to decide where to begin the vaccinations.

“We knew we wanted to start with younger schools first and that area around Cane Ridge and Antioch was seeing higher rate of flu-like illnesses,” he said. “We felt like that was a good area to start.”

Schools are also encouraging parents to come to school with their children for the vaccinations.

“We have a no resistance policy in schools which means if students resist for refuse the vaccine will not be administered,” Todd said. “We think we will have a higher success rate if parents are there.”

So far the health department has received 34,000 signed consent forms from parents across the district who want their kids to receive the free H1N1 vaccinations which will include a mixture of both the injectable vaccine and FluMist nasal spray.

Fewer than 350 vaccinations are planned at Edison and fewer than 450 are scheduled at Lakeview, Todd said. The clinics will be open for all students and staff at the school.

He estimates about 15 percent of the vaccinations will be injectable with the remainder coming in the form of FluMist nasal spray.

Children younger than age 9 must receive a booster dose 28 days after their initial vaccination, Todd said. The health department will schedule a second clinic at each school to administer the follow-up vaccine.

“The CDC recommends and we follow … to be consistent with boosters meaning if you got nasal spray initially you will get the same form as a booster,” Todd said.

H1N1 vaccine has a very long shelf life, so there’s little risk of the vaccine expiring before it’s administered, he said.

“We want to get it into the arms and noses of everybody who wants it,” he said.