Flu Shots

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 13, 2009

Letter sent home informs parents of coming flu shot

By Billy Davis
Students in the South Panola School District will be offered the H1N1 vaccine for free at a date yet to be determined.

Students and their parents were informed of the voluntary vaccine in a letter sent home this week.

The school district, in cooperation with the Miss. Department of Health, will offer the swine flu vaccination at an after-hours clinic, according to the note.

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“We’re not promoting nor dissuading students to receive the vaccine,” said South Panola Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer.

“Our choice in this matter is to try to be a facilitator,” he added.

South Panola students carried home a note stapled to an information packet that had been prepared by the state Department of Health. The packet included an explanatory letter from state epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier as well as a sign-up form and a “what you need to know” fact sheet.

Students will only receive the swine flu vaccination if the form is completed and returned to school, Currier’s letter states.

The so-called swine flu is more contagious, but also appears to be milder, than the seasonal flu, health experts have said. But the vaccine itself has caused concerns about side effects, a fear that was indirectly addressed in Currier’s letter:

 “The swine flu vaccine is made in the same way as the seasonal influenza vaccine that is given to hundreds of thousands of people every year. It has been thoroughly tested, and the risk from receiving the vaccine is much less than the risk from becoming ill with swine flu.”

The letter reported 10 confirmed deaths in Mississippi from the swine flu, including two children, since July.

The accompanying fact sheet states that children up to nine years of age should receive two doses of vaccine.

The fact sheet also states that the “ability to sue,” if a patient reacts negatively to the swine flu vaccine, “is limited by law.” Instead, a federal program has been set up to help pay for medical care related to the vaccine. That stipulation had raised concerns by some about side effects of the vaccine.

“Our choice in this situation is to try to be a facilitator. We’re not promoting nor dissuading students to receive the vaccine,” said schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer.

Shaffer said South Panola schools nurse Dee Dee Standard is overseeing the vaccine for the school district.

Attempts to reach Standard Thursday morning, before press time, were unsuccessful.