H1N1 vaccination program to continue in school


Published: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 3:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 3:58 p.m.

So far this school year, the H1N1, or swine flu, immunization program offered to area school children has not received the same level of participation from students as the seasonal flu vaccine.

As of Jan. 7, 1,797 of the 27,000 students in Alachua County public schools had received the vaccine on campus compared to more than 12,000 students who have been inoculated for the seasonal flu.

Sherry Windham, immunization supervisor coordination for the health department, said, “this is not really a huge turnout. We had much better participation for the seasonal flu than we are for H1N1.”

The Alachua County Health Department began administering the H1N1 nasal mist vaccine to students at public, private and charter schools in mid-November 2009.

High school students in Alachua County public schools were first to receive the vaccine followed by middle school students. The bulk of the remaining inoculations to elementary students should be complete by Jan. 22. Students under the age of 10 will need a second dose in February.

“We have had some school-age children show up to the countywide mass clinics, and others may be able to obtain the vaccine through their private physician,” Windham said.

She added that only two area private schools have requested the immunizations, “which was for about 100 students between the two schools.”

Jackie Johnson, spokeswoman for Alachua County Public Schools, said parents have until the day of the immunization clinic at their child’s school to return permission slips, so it’s unknown how many students will participate.

The district did not set an immunization goal for the H1N1 vaccine like the target of 70 percent for the seasonal FluMist at the elementary and middle school level.

“We learned a lot this year that will help us next year,” Johnson said.

Windham said there are still plenty of doses of the vaccine available locally.

“The idea out there that my child will not get H1N1 is a misconception. As long as it’s out there, your child is susceptible, and I’d rather err on the side of caution,” Windham said.

In mid-December 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recalled 800,000 vaccines intended for young children for concerns of potency against the H1N1 virus. The recall included 600 doses that were shipped to the Alachua County Health Department. While 560 doses were recovered, 35 had been administered to area children.

Contact Harriet Daniels at harriet.daniels@gvillesun.com or 338-3166.

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