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Flu vaccine available to N’hampton students

JACKSON — Federal stimulus money will help protect Northampton County Public School students in five grade levels against the seasonal flu.

The Northampton County Board of Education was briefed recently by Assistant Schools Superintendent Phil Matthews about the state receiving funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to provide free seasonal flu vaccines to students in grades 4-8.

A flu mist vaccine will be administered to students in mid-October with parental permission. The clinics are being conducted by the Northampton County Health Department with the assistance of the school nurses.

“The grant is only for five grades…is it possible for (students in) other grades if parents want them to come in for it if they pay for it?” asked Board member Erica Smith-Ingram.

Matthews said other students may receive the vaccine through their personal health provider or at the Health Department.

Board member Charles Tyner asked if the students from other grades could have it done at the school since the clinics would be set up there.

Matthews referred to Susie Johnson, Director of Northampton County Schools/School Relations.

“Other students can get the vaccine, but because they only allow five grades the Health Department is not staffed to do everybody and they didn’t get enough vaccine to do everybody,” she said. “If they go to the Health Department or their personal provider, they can receive the mist or the (shot) vaccine, whatever way they wanted to.”

Johnson also noted this was the seasonal flu vaccine, not the H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine, which is not available yet.

Tyner said for the parents of students in other grades who wanted to have their child vaccinated, it was inconvenient not to allow them to be vaccinated in the schools.

“We have to work through the Health Department,” said Johnson. “They’re the lead agency on this.”

She added the staff members will be receiving their seasonal flu vaccine through Blue Cross and Blue Shield at the Central Office, Northampton County High School-West and at Conway Middle School during October as well.