North Idaho students eligible for vaccine at school

Students in North Idaho’s public and private schools will bring home permission slips this week to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine at school.

Panhandle Health District is working with schools to provide the vaccine to students who receive permission, a district news release said.

The vaccine as a nasal spray began to arrive Monday in North Idaho. The spray is made with a weakened live virus and used only for healthy people 2 to 49 years old. A vaccine for injection, made with an inactive virus, should start arriving next week, the release said.

The health district plans to begin vaccinations in schools by Oct. 19. Children are a priority as the virus has hit those 25 and younger in the greatest numbers, the release said. The school vaccinations will continue through early December.

Children 10 and older will receive one dose; those younger than 10 will need two doses three to four weeks apart for maximum protection, the release said.

The health district plans to start vaccinations for the general public in the five northern counties at the end of October, providing the supply is adequate. Dates and locations will be announced when the supply is confirmed.

People who need the most protection are a priority to receive the vaccine first. They are: pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months; people 6 months to 24 years old; people 25 to 64 with chronic health problems; and health care and emergency response workers, the release said.

Some medical offices will carry the vaccine. The health district will list those providers on its Web site. Health district vaccinations are free, but private medical offices may charge for office visits, the release said.

Vaccines will not be administered at Spokane Public Schools sites, or in other surrounding school districts, officials said. Instead families are being encouraged to attend one of three free clinics provided by Spokane Regional Health District, beginning Oct. 24 at various YMCA sites.

As part of a three-year grant through the health district and Group Health Cooperative, Spokane schools offers a free influenza clinic at two elementary school sites typically in October or November, but those clinics will not include H1N1 vaccinations, said Kathe Reed-McKay, the school district health services coordinator.

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