Schools in Contra Costa get H1N1 vaccine

October 8, 2009 5:52:37 PM PDT
The first Bay Area kids got the H1N1 flu vaccine at school-based clinics and there are no complaints. That's because they got the H1N1 flu mist, not the shot. Even so, the new H1N1 flu vaccine is still causing some controversy.

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Contra Costa County decided to vaccinate young children first because they are considered extremely vulnerable to H1N1 and the Centers for Disease Control also strongly recommends they be vaccinated.

Still many parents at local elementary schools said 'no thanks.'

Five-year-old Gilberto Ramirez was one of 200 students at Antioch's Belshaw Elementary School to get the new H1N1 vaccine.

These are the first children in Contra Costa County to receive the nasal swab since its arrival two days ago.

"Our numbers went way, way up when the youngsters found out they were not going to get a shot," said Belshaw Elementary School Principal Bill Bolio.

Teachers and staff under 50 were also eligible. First grader Gabriel Gaspar and his two brothers all received the mist.

"Just got like a little thing, put it up my nose and went sniff and got it," said Gaspar.

"No real concern. I'd be more concerned if they ended up getting really sick," said Manny Gaspar, Gabriel's father of the concerns of the H1N1 vaccine.

But at Belshaw, only about a third of the school's 670 students received the H1N1 vaccine. Some were not eligible for the nasal version, due to health conditions like asthma. But for many others, their parents simply declined the vaccine in any form.

"The big pandemic just came out and I don't think there's been enough research done on the shot to inject that into my child," said parent Heidi Jennings.

"I'm learning about this flu thing. I want to protect my daughter, but I don't think the schools should be doing it," said parent Tina Jensen.

Erika Jenssen is the immunization director for Contra Costa County.

"I understand that parents have concerns about the vaccine. This is exactly the same manufacturing process as the seasonal flu vaccine so it's the same quality steps and it's a very safe vaccine," said Jenssen.

On Friday, the county will move to a school in Concord and they plan to hold a handful of clinics each day, so that they can complete those 49 school-based clinics.

The county expects to receive 100,000 doses by the end of the month and they say eventually they will be able to provide it to the broader public through community clinics and private providers.

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