Swine flu school clinics start with Moanalua


POSTED: Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eighth-grader Taylor Basuel got a shot for swine flu in Moanalua Middle School's clinic because “;it's like an epidemic,”; she said. “;A lot of people are getting it.”;

Her parents said she had to be vaccinated “;because they didn't want me to get sick,”; she said.

“;It's deadly,”; Casey Isa, one of Basuel's classmates, said of the H1N1 influenza virus.

Moanalua Middle School kicked off the state Health Department's H1N1 swine flu clinics at 320 public, private and charter elementary and middle schools yesterday.

Nearly 400, or 42 percent, of Moanalua Middle's 916 students turned in consent forms to participate in the H1N1 clinic, compared with about 75 percent who had seasonal flu vaccinations, said Ann Siababa, school health aide.

Of the total, 285 got shots while 106 opted for nasal sprays. Eighth-grader Abby Ioka-Taylor said she had a seasonal flu shot and “;it really hurt,”; so she chose nasal spray to keep swine flu away.

About half of the 92 faculty members were vaccinated, with 44 getting shots and three opting for spray.

Siababa said about 50 students were wait-listed for H1N1 vaccinations because of late consent forms.

;[Preview]  Moanalua Middle School receives H1N1 vaccine

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The school's seasonal flu clinic was conducted Oct. 16. H1N1 consent forms arrived on the 19th, and she got them to teachers the next day, Siababa said, noting the short time for parents to consider the shots.

The deadline to return the forms was Oct. 30, a Furlough Friday, so she extended the return date to the following Monday, she said.

“;We do realize it was a quick turnaround,”; said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo. But the department had to know how much vaccine the schools would require so it could be reserved and other supplies could be distributed to community providers, she explained.

State epidemiologist Sarah Park has emphasized that seasonal flu shots do not protect against H1N1 influenza. The viruses are different and require different vaccinations.

Observing the clinic yesterday, she said, “;I'm very happy. It's gone off well as usual.”; But she expressed concern that more children were not participating.

She said “;other schools are asking to be let in,”; but “;we're trying to make sure we have enough vaccine to run the clinics.”; The department reserved 80,000 doses for the schools based on the number of consent forms turned in.

Children under 10 years old need two H1N1 doses for full immunization and should get the second one from the family's pediatrician, she said. But Park is asking pediatricians not to reserve vaccine for second doses for children who had the first one to ensure that more kids get at least one dose.

Hawaii's flu activity is increasing, and the flu season appears to be starting at least a month earlier than usual, which was expected because of the mainland surge, Park said.

For more information, see flu.hawaii.gov.