The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night approved a proposal by the Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office to set up school clinics to administer H1N1 vaccinations. A team of nurses and health department staff will be manning the clinics
In order for children in the school system to receive the immunizations, their parents or guardians would first have to complete and sign a form, giving permission. The immunizations will be free of charge.
Deanna Pursinger, School Health Coordinator, says she is still waiting on confirmation from the health department but tentative dates for the clinics are Tuesday through Friday, February 16th- 19th and the following Monday through Thursday, February 22nd-25th. She says the hope is to complete visits to all the schools in the county in a week or less.
Pursinger says the school system, nor the board of education would be held liable since "children are covered through malpractice insurance through the health department, just the same as if they went to the health department themselves."
The vaccinations would not just be available to children. Pursinger says others could receive the immunizations as well. " Not only is this H1N1 flu vaccination and or mist available to our students, its also available to any adult, faculty or staff member, a younger sibling, or parents as long as they fill out the form. They (health department) are going to have plenty of vaccinations while they are at the school so anybody can get this for free. There's no cost, they just have to fill out the form and sign it."
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says he hopes this is the beginning of a stronger partnership with the health department. "We would hope that this is a bridge in order to work with the health department even more in administering immunization shots and things like that, especially for our pre-school kids and kindergarten kids, so hopefully by doing this we can be building a bridge to work more and more with our health department in the future."
A consent form and the following letter will be sent to parents and guardians from the Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office:
"As you may have heard, a new influenza virus, called the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, was first identified in the United States in late April 2009. The virus has caused illness ranging from mild to severe, including hospitalizations and deaths in adults and children. Many children have gotten H1N1 infection and there have been large outbreaks in some schools across the country. Flu is unpredictable and activity can rise and fall throughout the season, but flu is likely to continue for months, caused by either 2009 H1N1 viruses or regular seasonal flu viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that children and young adults be vaccinated against H1N1."
"Vaccination is the best way to protect your child from this potentially serious disease. The health department is working with your child's school to give the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine to children at school. A vaccination clinic will be held at your child's school in the month of January or February 2010. Please complete the consent form along with your signature giving permission to vaccinate your child."
"Children under age 10 need two doses of vaccine spaced one month apart to provide adequate immunity. Only one dose is required for children age 10 and older or for children that obtain the first dose at age 9 and will turn 10 before the second dose is due. If your child meets the criteria for a second dose, it will also be administered at school to fulfill the requirement. There will be no cost to you for this vaccine."
"If you have any questions about the vaccine or the vaccination clinic, please call your local health department from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please visit the CDC's H1N1 web site at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/and http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/parents for information especially for parents.