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Ashland schools get swine flu vaccine

Ashland School District received 350 doses of the H1N1 vaccine this week, and will distribute them in the coming days.

The district has 2,798 students, so in theory, about 13 percent of all students could initially be vaccinated against the virus, known as swine flu. However, some of the doses may go to at-risk staff members.

School officials, who originally believed the district would receive more doses earlier this fall, anticipate all of the vaccine will be used up next week, said Samuel Bogdanove, the district's director of student services.

"I think it's pretty likely that they'll be enough interest to absorb all the vaccine we've been given," he said Friday.

The vaccine will be available for free to staff members with secondary health concerns and students beginning Monday.

District health officials will request more doses of the vaccine if they run out before administering it to all students who have requested it, Bogdanove said.

It seems likely that will be the case, he said, adding that it's unclear how long it would take for additional doses to arrive.

"It took longer than anticipated to get the first round," he said. "I think they're getting it out as quickly as they can."

School administrators originally believed the district would have received 1,000 doses by now, Bogdanove said.

"I think we'll get that (amount) over time," he said. "We just couldn't get it all at once."

The number of H1N1-related absences in the district peaked in the seven days ending Oct. 15, when 386 students were absent with flu symptoms.

Since then, the number of absences due to flu symptoms has substantially decreased, Bogdanove said.

District health officials plan to administer the vaccine to high-risk students first, and then to other students in the order that they have requested it.

"I think most people understand that there's a shortage of the vaccine nationally and I think the only fair way to distribute it is based on risk factors and then based on first come first served," Bogdanove said.

School health officials will hold a clinic on Tuesday at Ashland High School to distribute 50 doses of the nasal mist vaccine and 100 doses of the injectable vaccine. Students and staff members must make appointments to be vaccinated at the clinic. For more information or to schedule and appointment, call 482-8771 ext 226.

For Ashland middle and elementary school students, the district has 100 nasal mist doses and 100 injectable doses of the vaccine available. Students must have an appointment to receive the vaccine. For more information or to schedule and appointment, e-mail Belinda Brown, school nurse, at nurse@ashland.k12.or.us.

District health officials are recommending that people without secondary health conditions receive the nasal mist vaccine. Those with secondary health conditions — including asthma, diabetes, lung or cardiac problems, or compromised immune systems — should receive the injectable vaccine, according to health officials.

Children who are not enrolled in Ashland public schools and other community members can receive the H1N1 vaccine through Jackson County health offices or their doctors. For more information call the Jackson County Immunization Hotline at 774-6444.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.