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Students to get shot at H1N1 vaccine

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By Mallory Bilger

SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Bullitt County Health Department is planning H1N1 influenza vaccination clinics targeting the county’s school children -- but the first clinic won't offer nearly enough vaccine to cover the entire student population of about 13,000.

BCHD Public Health Director Swannie Jett announced Friday that the department currently has 2,000 intranasal novel H1N1 vaccinations stockpiled for the first clinic scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 17, 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Bullitt Central High School.

A second clinic is planned for Dec. 1, 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at North Bullitt High School and a third will be Dec. 8, 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Bullitt East High School.

 He said the clinic times and dates are subject to change due to vaccination availability and hoped the department would receive more vaccine between clinics so that no students would have to be turned away.

"It will probably go pretty quick," Jett said of the vaccinations.

The clinics were planned by the health department and Bullitt County Schools and will target healthy, school-aged children from 5 to 19 years. Anyone who suffers from chronic illnesses or has weak immune systems should not receive the intranasal vaccination because it contains a small amount of the live novel H1N1 virus. That population should instead try to locate the novel H1N1 vaccination shot.

Jett said children 10 and under would need a second dose of the vaccination 28 days following the initial dose for full effectiveness. All children 18 or younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Although no one will be turned away at the clinics, Jett strongly encouraged those who are not Bullitt County school-aged children to wait until the next county-wide clinic is held.

Superintendent Keith Davis complimented the health department for its efforts to protect the county's student population, which has been identified as one of the most heavily affected by the novel H1N1 virus.

"(These clinics will) hopefully guard against poor attendance," Davis said at the press conference.

Bullitt County Schools' District Health Coordinator Lesa Bodine said that although some individual schools have reported increased absences due to illness, the district as a whole has been able to keep its attendance rate above 90 percent. She said attendance at some of the most heavily hit schools, such as Old Mill Elementary, has improved recently.

Jett said the health department anticipates receiving enough H1N1 vaccinations for anyone in the county that desires to be vaccinated, but production is slow and he asked for residents' patience. He said the department wouldn't plan another community-wide inoculation event until the clinics targeting school children were completed.

Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts said  she would continue to monitor the situation throughout the county and would offer any assistance that the health department needed in fighting against the novel H1N1 flu.

“We will receive enough vaccine to vaccinate every citizen in Bullitt County,” Roberts assured.