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Students in grades K-5 offered free flu vaccinations

August 24, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Officials from Washington County Public Schools and the Washington County Health Department are offering free seasonal flu vaccinations to students in grades kindergarten through five.

The vaccinations will not protect children from swine flu.

John Davidson, director of student services for Washington County Public Schools, said vaccinations will be administered from Oct. 19 to 26.

He said the vaccinations would not be given without parental consent.

The vaccinations will be administered as a mist through both nostrils because most children are afraid of needles, said Susan Parks, director of community health nursing for the Washington County Health Department.

Parks said children who are younger than 9 and never have received a flu vaccination will require two doses. The second dose will be given in January, she said.

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Children in grades kindergarten through five were chosen to receive the vaccinations because they are the ones most likely to get the flu and transmit it to others, Parks said.

"We want to keep them from giving it to older siblings and relatives," she said.

The vaccinations could produce several side effects, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, nasal congestion, wheezing, muscle aches and headaches, Parks said. Parents should take their children to the emergency room if the vaccination causes a high fever.

Davidson said school officials and health department officials are working together to provide the public with swine flu vaccinations when a vaccine becomes available.

The health department would supply the vaccine, and the school system would provide the space, Davidson said. The tentative dates for the vaccinations are Nov. 2-3, he said.

If an outbreak occurs, school officials would close schools on the advice of the health department, Davidson said.




How to prevent the flu

o Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

o When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.

o Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

o Wash your hands often to help protect you from germs.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often are spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

o Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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