School nurses in Philadelphia gathered yesterday to receive training for something they usually don’t do: Give kids vaccines.
A high school in Radnor has closed for the rest of the week, because most of the students are out sick — likely with swine flu. Philadelphia schools want to avoid that situation.
The Philadelphia School District and the city’s public health department will provide school children with the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, once it becomes available later this month.
The program is paid for by the federal government. Children will need permission from their parents to be vaccinated. Steve Alles with the city’s public health department says children are a high priority for getting immunized.
Alles: This is an unusual year, I mean it’s a new disease, it’s a pandemic strain of influenza. Typically we don’t do things like this in Philadelphia-based schools on a regular basis. But there have been periods in history when something like this has occurred.
Alles says the program will relieve some of the burden on pediatricians and other physicians who have been swamped with calls about getting vaccine. Fernando Gallard is the school district’s spokesman.
Gallard: We have a lot of children that will need this vaccine. So the reason we are involved is to make this process easy for the city, for the parents and for the schools.
Schools will provide only the nasal spray vaccine, not the shot. Children under 10 will require two doses. The public health department is waiting to get sufficient doses to designate specific vaccination days at school. Alles expects to have voluntary, free vaccine days at schools later this month.