Flu Clinics Get Under Way In Vt. Schools

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(Host) Swine flu vaccination clinics have begun at Vermont schools.

But there’s not enough vaccine to go around, and the virus already has struck in a lot of places.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd has this update.

(Sound of students in hallway)

Teacher: "Let’s make sure we don’t lose anyone." … "Let’s stay to this side, everyone."

(Sneyd) For students from South Burlington’s Chamberlin elementary school, it was almost like a field trip. They got on a bus at school and traveled across town to Central School.

It would be a short visit. They stayed just long enough to get a flu shot at the building where city officials put together a one-day clinic so 500 students could be inoculated.

Spirits were generally high, although there were some tears and lots of hugs. Here’s Central School Principal Sue Luck.

(Luck) "The children were comforted by teachers or volunteers. And it seemed to go very, very smoothly. We only had a couple of soft spots, but we were able to immunize those kids, gave them a little extra time and a few extra hugs and we got through it."

(Hallway sounds)

(Sneyd) Health Department staff, teachers and a few parents were on hand to shepherd kids through the process.

So was the state Health commissioner, Dr. Wendy Davis.

(Davis) "This is very comparable to the routine immunizations that children get from their physicians’ office."

(Sneyd) Dr. Davis was pleased with how smoothly this first clinic went.

But she’s disappointed that the Health Department had to postpone 19 of the first 40 clinics because there was no vaccine available. She says she hopes it’s on the way.

(Davis) "We’re asking people to be patient, knowing that people are worried, given that there’s widespread illness activity in the state. But vaccine will keep coming in, we will keep getting it out. There eventually will be enough for all who want it. And in the meantime keep taking those precautions to help decrease illness transmission in other ways in the community."

(Sneyd) But while everyone waits, flu is spreading.

At the University of Vermont, there’s been a spike in the number of students coming down with the flu. So UVM has opened a special clinic to help treat them in a basement under Ira Allen Chapel. The clinic is just for students with flu or fever. Dr. Jon Porter says it was set up separately from the regular health center to isolate flu cases as much as possible.

(Porter) "We’ve been planning on this, we’ve been expecting for this to happen and I’m a little surprised it didn’t happen a little earlier in the academic year. So I can’t say we’re surprised that it’s happening."

(Sneyd) The clinic will be able to care for eight students at a time. They’ll be given medication, if they need it, advice on how to take care of themselves and then sent home to recover.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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