Schools awaiting flu vaccines
By Scott Mims
The Chilton County Health Department expects to coordinate H1N1 flu vaccine clinics in local schools this fall, possibly by November.
The department will work with school nurses and volunteers to administer free vaccines to students upon parents’ consent, said Clinic Supervisor Ludean Hicks.
“The schools have everything set up. All they are waiting on is the vaccine,” Hicks said. “Even if we receive it by next week, it will be November before we can start giving it out.”
The H1N1 vaccines given at schools are expected to come in the form of shots rather than the nasal spray, she added. Hicks also said the health department plans on administering vaccines to the public later this fall, but the department currently has no vaccine.
Statewide, Alabama should receive 2.8 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine by the first week in January.
That’s more than twice the amount of traditional flu vaccine the state normally sees each year, said Director of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Dr. Jim McVay.
“There will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it. The problem is, everyone wants it today,” McVay explained.
H1N1, also known as swine flu, accounts for 99 percent of all current influenza cases in Alabama, but the demand for vaccine is so high that it could take until January to fill all orders.
While there will be no charge for doses through schools and county health departments, others may charge up to $18.62 for the vaccine, which is the Medicare reimbursement rate for immunization
Hospitals will probably be the first to receive doses of the nasal mist, he added. After that, the next concentration will be on schools.
“It’s a large undertaking going to each school. It will take at least a month to get to all the schools,” McVay said.
He recommends that all students receive the vaccine when available and that those with H1N1 remain home until they have been without fever for at least 24 hours. Notices will be sent home to parents prior to any clinic.