Flu vaccines still on the way

Published 10:35 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The HINI flu virus vaccination will still be made available for the city’s students, but there has been a delay in the scheduled clinics.

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.

Wednesday morning Suffolk Public Schools Public Information Officer Bethanne Bradshaw announced the clinics have been rescheduled for later dates.

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“Rescheduled is a good term because there has been some concern among the schools that they have been cancelled and are never to be held again,” said Dr. Lisa McCoy, director of the Western Tidewater Health District. “That’s not the case.”

McCoy said there have been significant delays nationwide in the delivery of the vaccine.

“There have been some challenges with production, and distribution across the nation is very uneven,” McCoy said. “The vaccine is not being released in the quantities that we would have expected for this period of time. We’re just postponing (the clinics) until we have something to vaccinate them with.”

McCoy added that staff is working with all the schools in the health district – both public and private – to provide the necessary vaccinations.

School children are one of the main priority groups for the vaccine because 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, which makes passing the virus easier in a school setting.

Bradshaw released that the first clinic is anticipated to be at Booker T. Washington Elementary School on Oct. 28, and the second one will be tentatively be at Oakland Elementary School on Nov. 2.

Until that time, McCoy said there are still vaccinations available at the Health and Human Services Building – just not enough to vaccinate entire schools in one sitting.

“We’re glad to give it as long as we have it available,” McCoy said. She added that people should call first to make sure there is still enough vaccine.