Schools to offer vaccine

Published 8:46 pm Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Suffolk Public Schools students will return to school today with signed permission forms to receive the H1N1 vaccine at school.

Over the next several weeks, the schools will be partnering with the Suffolk Health Department to offer the vaccine free to students. Letters and permission forms were sent home with students Monday, and are due back today.

“It’s not very typical” to give vaccinations at school, spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said. “We’re doing this as a way to reach the most students, keep the community healthy, and it benefits our academic achievement. Students can’t learn if they’re not in school.”

Bradshaw couldn’t recall another vaccination being given at school in the 20 years she was worked for the system.

“It’s been a while,” she said.

Clinics will be held at the schools in October and November, though dates have not yet been scheduled. The clinics will be for injection only — the Flu Mist nasal spray vaccine is not included in the service.

The immunization will be one injection for students ages 10 and up, but children 9 and under will receive a second injection one month from the date of the initial injection. The second injection also will be given at school.

The H1N1 flu, also called the swine flu, is caused by a new strain of influenza virus that has spread worldwide. It is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing and touching objects contaminated with the virus. Signs can include fatigue, chills, fever, coughing, sore throat, sneezing and muscle aches.

Though it is spread in the same way as the seasonal flu, H1N1 is separate from the seasonal flu. The vaccines are separate, but can be given at the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information on the vaccines in the schools, parents should call the school nurse at their child’s school, Bradshaw said.