Schools preparing for HINI

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, October 15, 2009

In the wake of the breakout of the HINI flu virus (better known as the swine flu), local schools are turning into clinic sites to offer free swine flu vaccinations to students and staff.

Each of Suffolk’s public schools will have a clinic scheduled within the next several weeks to give vaccinations to students who sign up for it.

Additionally, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and Isle of Wight Academy have both set up similar clinics for their campuses.

“We were in contact a good while ago with the Suffolk Health Department and Dr. Lisa McCoy when they were first sending our feelers about setting up a vaccination clinic,” said Lisa Johnson, a nurse at NSA. “We certainly wanted them to come here and set up a clinic.”

At NSA, the health department will set up a clinic on Oct. 28.

Additionally, students at IOW Academy will also have the choice to get their vaccination through a similar clinic setup.

“We’re making it optional,” said Joseph Whitley, assistant headmaster for lower school/director of admissions and development. “We sent the letter home. They have to sign the permission slip if they want it, we can’t force them to do it.”

Whitley added that about half of the school’s 640 students have signed up for the vaccination as well as several staff members.

Suffolk Public Schools Public Information Officer Bethanne Bradshaw reported that a total of 6,112 student permission forms were returned out of the 14, 838 possible and 604 staff permission forms returned out of a possible 2,201 employees.

Medical reports have shown that school-aged children and adolescents are the hardest hit age group with the swine flu pandemic. Additionally, reports have shown someone infected with the HINI flu can transmit the virus up to 24 hours before they even display symptoms.

The swine flu virus is spread from person to person mainly through coughing or sneezing.

People can become infected by touching something with the virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.