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Seventh-grader Ashley Roughton fidgeted and fretted as she awaited her turn for a swine-flu shot yesterday at the Fassett Middle School library.
Ashley said she had no choice. Her parents told her, “You have to get it no matter what,” she said.
Not all parents were so insistent.
At the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department's first school district-wide swine flu clinic yesterday, Oregon City Schools reported that less than half of their students had been authorized by their parents to get the shot.
“We had heard polling data that showed 30 to 40 percent of parents would have their children vaccinated,” said Larry Vasko, deputy health commissioner. “We are saying we want as many kids as possible vaccinated, but we understand it's the parents' choice.
“We're not disappointed with the numbers,” he added, “but we'd like them to be higher.”
At Fassett Middle School, which had the first Lucas County student with a confirmed case of H1N1 in September, 218 flu shots were given yesterday, although that figure included shots given to staff, said Dawn Henry, Oregon's director of student services. There are 483 students at the school.
At Starr Elementary, which has 610 students, the health department gave 335 shots to students and staff, she said.
Oregon City Schools Superintendent Michael Zalar said some children already had gotten the vaccination, and some parents were uneasy about the relatively new vaccine.
Cherie Sexton, district nurse for Oregon City Schools, said she fielded numerous questions from parents about the safety of the vaccine. She said she repeated the information supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and the health department about how the vaccine was developed in the same way other flu shots are developed.
“We're not exactly sure why approximately half or a little more opted not to have their children vaccinated today,” Mr. Vasko said. “It's a very safe and effective vaccine, and as time goes by we hope more people do indeed vaccinate their children.”
At Fassett, Mrs. Sexton checked on a couple of girls who had gotten the shots but weren't ready to go back to class. One hadn't eaten breakfast and was nervous about the shot, which left her feeling anxious afterward, Mrs. Sexton said.
She also comforted students who were nervous about getting the shot.
“It's going to feel cold. It's going to poke for a second. You'll feel a little sting, and it's over,” she told Ashley Roughton as she held her hands.
When the needle was headed toward Ashley's arm, Mrs. Sexton told her to cough. Ashley coughed and almost didn't notice she'd gotten the shot.
“It's over. You're done,” Mrs. Sexton told her. “You did awesome.”
The flu clinics are to continue today at three other Oregon schools: Eisenhower Middle School and Wynn and Coy elementary schools. Clay High School students are to be vaccinated Nov. 4.
Eric Zgodzinski, northwest Ohio regional public health coordinator, said the health department did a trial flu shot clinic last week at Toledo Preparatory Academy and, after seeing how things go this week in Oregon, will be scheduling other school clinics.
“It's going to be picking up quicker. We need to get this pilot out of the way and look at how it went. What do we need to do? What do we need to change?” he said, adding that the first day in Oregon went smoothly. “It didn't disrupt the entire day, and there were some concerns about that.”
The clinics were finished by 11 a.m., although there was a brief period about 10:20 a.m. when a shortage of needles and vaccine meant some students had to wait for more supplies.
The health department plans to be at Cardinal Stritch, Queen of Apostles, and Our Lady of Lourdes schools tomorrow and at St. Thomas School on Thursday.
Mr. Zgodzinski said Maumee City Schools likely will be the next large school district to host the clinics, possibly as early as next week.
On Thursday, the health department plans to hold a public H1N1 clinic from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the health department, 635 North Erie St., that will be open to an expanded number of priority groups, including children ages 6 months to 9 years old, high-risk individuals ages 10 to 24, and people 25 to 64 who have chronic health conditions.
Mr. Vasko said recent flu clinics have been busy early but less busy after the first hour or two.
“You do not need to be there when it first opens,” he said. “We need people to be there the whole time the clinic is open.”
Contact Jennifer Feehan at:firstname.lastname@example.org,or 419-724-6129.