MANATEE — Parents and guardians who want their child vaccinated against the swine flu at Manatee County district schools will have to wait a few more weeks to sign their child up for a dose.
That’s because consent forms aren’t expected to go out until the end of the month, district officials announced Friday. The Manatee County Health Department staff will only provide vaccines to students at the district’s 53 schools as long as those forms are signed. The forms will be sent out in an information packet that includes an assessment parents can fill out to determine if their child can receive the vaccine. The packet will also include information sheets that explain the risks and contradictions associated with any immunization, said Margi Nanney, district spokeswoman and a member of the district’s infectious disease committee.
Initially the forms were to be sent to schools Friday. But the printing and distribution process of the eight-page packets will be lengthy, Nanney said.
“It will take time to print about 50,000 of the packets, in both Spanish and English,” she said.
Parents who want their child to receive the vaccine will be required to return the consent form to their school within three days. For those who do not want their child vaccinated: simply don’t return the form.
Once forms are returned to school, parents will be notified when clinics will be scheduled at the child’s school.
Parents of elementary students must accompany their child at the time of vaccination. Middle and high school students are not required to have their parents present, Nanney said.
Children younger than age 10 are required to receive a second dose of the vaccine, health department officials said. A second clinic will be held at those childrens’ school after 21 to 28 days.
The parental notification and vaccination clinic process in the schools will take several weeks to complete, so district officials urge parents to monitor the district’s Web site, www.manateeschools.net, for updates.
Parents who do not want to wait to get their child vaccinated can contact their physician’s office for a dose.
Altogether, 2,800 nasal mist doses were delivered to Manatee County this week. Of that batch, 600 went to the health department. It had ordered 1,700 nasal mist doses.
The remaining 2,200 doses were shipped directly to about seven private health providers who requested more than 100 doses and had their request approved by the health department.
“Our partners at Manatee County Schools and Manatee County Emergency Management are as concerned as we are about the health of the county’s children. Protecting our children against this virus is a major undertaking,” said Dr. Jennifer Bencie, administrator of the health department.
So far, two women, ages 27 and 37 and with underlying medical conditions, have died from swine flu in Manatee County.
The state of Florida ordered 100,000 doses of the nasal mist, recommended for healthy people ages 2-49 who are not pregnant. Priority groups also include household caregivers and health-care providers.
The nasal spray vaccine is made with live, weakened viruses of the flu. A flu shot, which will contain a dead virus, will be available next and is approved for people 6 months and older, including people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/ or call the Florida Flu Information Line from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at (877) 352-3581.