H1N1 vaccine hard to getAs noses begin to run and fevers keep children home from school, the H1N1 vaccine is trickling into the state.
By: By Greta Petrich and Celeste Beam, Staff Reporters, Alexandria Echo Press
As noses begin to run and fevers keep children home from school, the H1N1 vaccine is trickling into the state.
That’s causing a lot of questions from parents, wondering when they can have their children immunized against this new strain of influenza.
According to Douglas County Public Health, the vaccination is the best way to protect your child from this potentially serious disease. Public health officials are even working with local schools to set up school-based H1N1 vaccination clinics.
Except it’s not that simple, said Sandy Tubbs, director of Douglas County Public Health.
She said the state of Minnesota should receive 100,000 doses targeted to various regions based on demographics. That translates to about 3,500 for this region, which includes Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Glenwood and the Alexandria lakes area.
Tubbs said it boils down to having enough vaccinations to maybe immunize a couple grades in a school district.
“We will have to think very carefully where we begin,” Tubbs said. “It looks like we will focus on children 9 and younger because they will need a second dose.”
Tubbs emphasized that nothing has been finalized, adding it could be mid to late November or even early December before they are able to offer comprehensive, school-based immunization clinics.
Despite the current shortage, Tubbs encourages parents to complete and return the H1N1 influenza vaccine school consent form that was sent home with students.
Forms for students in Alexandria School District 206 were sent out within the last couple of weeks. Middle school and high school students should have received their forms in the mail, while elementary-aged students were given the forms to bring home.
Carole Westby, health coordinator for School District 206, said that although students were asked to return the forms by last Friday, forms would be accepted up until the date of the vaccine clinic.
If students did not receive a form, Westby said they are available in the Health Services Office at each of the schools.
Parents have the option to accept or refuse the vaccination for their child. If a form is filled out, school and public health officials can plan ahead, because they will have an idea of how many parents want their children to receive the vaccine.
The school-based vaccination clinics will offer both the injection and the nasal mist. It is estimated that the majority of the vaccines sent to Minnesota will be the mist, said Tubbs.
“The vaccine supply has been less than anticipated,” said a frustrated Tubbs.
When the H1N1 flu vaccine is shipped, the Minnesota Department of Health determines which group or groups of people will be the targeted group to receive the vaccine, said Tubbs. It is not a local decision, she added.
“We are asking people to be patient and that when the vaccine becomes available to the public, we will let them know,” Tubbs said. “We are not holding on to it. Once it’s available, we will get it out there.”
For more information about the H1N1 vaccine or vaccination clinics, call Douglas County Public Health at (320) 763-6018.
Flu information can also be found on local school district websites –www.alexandria.k12.mn.us and www.osakispublicschools.org.