San Jose Unified launches flu vaccine campaign

November 18, 2009 2:19:43 PM PST
San Jose Unified School District launched its ambitious plan to offer H1N1 vaccinations to all of its students. It's the only district in Santa Clara County to attempt such a program. Vaccine supply and parental fear could impact the district's efforts.

Months of planning paid off at Lowell Elementary School in San Jose. The H1N1 vaccinations are voluntary and actual shots are reserved for students with underlying medical issues such as asthma.

Most students get the nasal spray.

"It's a simpler way to provide vaccinations and it's easier on the kids," said school nurse Cheryl Barton, RN.

There are wild rumors out there about the vaccine, such as it's made from monkey brains and even a YouTube video claiming it made a cheerleader walk backwards.

Many parents though say it's the flu itself that worries them.

"People have been dying and we just didn't want to take a chance with our daughter in school," said parent Jose Bravo.

Of Lowell's 385 students, 200 signed up for the free vaccine. The principal says many families already took their children to the county's free clinics, but notes there are other concerns.

"Some decided they weren't comfortable with it. Some thought their kids weren't healthy enough or had a runny nose. There are a lot of different reasons behind it," said Lowel Elementary School Principal Judi Lax.

For those that took advantage of the onsite delivery, the process proved painless.

The nursing staff will be back at the school in a month because every kid under the age of 10 needs a second dose of the vaccine.

The district intends to offer the H1N1 vaccine to all of its 3,200 students, but the schedule will depend on a still limited supply.

"The word is we should receive more vaccine so that hopefully we can continue this week with different schools. We are doing Washington school tomorrow for sure, but from here, it's day by day," said district nurse Susan Aldrich.

Schools with younger children are first in line, with the traveling clinics eventually making their way to the high schools.


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