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School flu vaccinations begin


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fourth-grader Chasen Castilliano, waiting with classmates for a seasonal flu shot at Kalihi-Kai School, explained it was “;for me not to get the flu.”;

He remembered being sick once with the flu. His mother “;treated me like I was a baby,”; he said. “;She gave me lots of medicine and gave me frozen things. ... I ate ice pops to make my fever go away.”;

Castilliano was one of about 442 Kalihi-Kai students getting vaccinated, most choosing shots over nasal spray, in the state Health Department's first school vaccination clinic for seasonal flu yesterday.

“;It feels like a poke,”; fifth-grader Melanie Sao said after a shot. “;You should get it because if you don't you can get really sick. It's a good thing.”;

Gov. Linda Lingle, standing out with a bright yellow pantsuit, told the kids she “;was just a little bit scared”; when she got her flu shot, but there was nothing to it. “;It helps you stay healthy the whole year.”;

She proclaimed Oct. 13 “;Influenza Vaccination Day”; to encourage residents to get vaccinated both for seasonal flu and H1N1 influenza (swine flu) when vaccine is available.

“;Too many people think it's one (vaccination) or the other,”; Lingle said, emphasizing vaccinations are needed for both.

They are different strains that affect different groups of people. Children, young adults, pregnant women and people with underlying medical problems are more susceptible to H1N1, while children, older people and those with chronic health conditions are at high risk for seasonal flu.

Hawaii's first shipment of H1N1 vaccine in the form of nasal spray arrived last week and is being given first to firefighters, paramedics and health care workers. Injectable vaccine is expected to arrive this week.

Lingle urged parents to read and sign consent forms going home next week to allow their children to receive H1N1 vaccinations in school clinics after seasonal flu clinics end.

It is especially important for children because they are one of the high-risk groups for H1N1, she said.

Hawaii has had 11 deaths associated with H1N1 influenza since the first confirmed cases May 5. They included 10 adults and one child. All but one adult and the child had underlying medical conditions.

Hawaii has won awards as the first state to conduct Stop Flu at School clinics for seasonal influenza. It is believed to be the only state providing free, voluntary statewide flu vaccinations to elementary and middle school students.

“;This is a great day,”; Lingle said, applauding the Health Department, partner agencies and volunteers.

“;I'm so proud of you,”; she told the students. “;You're really brave.”;

“;They're doing excellent,”; said Vice Principal Ronnie Gallardo. “;There are not as many criers this year.”;

Children with green cards in yesterday's clinic received shots, and those with yellow cards got nasal spray (FluMist). About 91 faculty and staff also got vaccinations, state health officials said.

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park, chief of the Health Department's Disease Control Division, was among those vaccinated in the school clinic, opting for nasal spray to demonstrate it is as effective as a shot.

When the nasal spray was first produced, it had too much volume, but “;now it's like a little squirt,”; Park said.

“;It felt like crying,”; said second-grader Mark Dela Cruz, holding a tissue to his nose. “;It didn't hurt.”;

Stop Flu at School clinics also were held yesterday at Pope Elementary School in Waimanalo, Pohakea Elementary in Ewa Beach and Kapolei Elementary.

               

     

 

STOPPING THE FLU IN THE CLASSROOM

        State Department of Health facts about the Stop Flu at School clinics under way for seasonal flu:
       

» Students have a choice of flu shots or nasal-spray vaccine.

       

» The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine containing killed virus given with a needle. The shot is approved for people older than 6 months, including those with chronic medical conditions.

       

» Nasal-spray (FluMist) flu vaccine is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. Sometimes it is called LAIV for “;live attenuated influenza vaccine.”; It is approved for healthy people ages 2 to 49 except for pregnant women.

       

» More than 62,000 children and 9,500 teachers and school staff were vaccinated in the seasonal flu program last year.

       

» About 334 (91 percent) of public, private and charter schools statewide are participating in this year's statewide school-based clinics for seasonal flu.

       

» A total of 73,107 students have signed up for seasonal flu vaccinations.

       

» H1N1 (swine flu) clinics will be held at schools after the seasonal flu clinics end. Consent forms are going out to parents next week and must be returned to schools by Oct. 30.

       

For more information about the program, see www.stopfluatschool.com or call Aloha United Way's 211 hot line.

       

Source: State Department of Health