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Ashland schools get H1N1 vaccine

The Ashland School District has received 350 doses of the H1N1 vaccine to distribute beginning this week.

The district has 2,798 students, so in theory, about 13 percent of them 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 this week, said Samuel Bogdanove, the district's director of student services.

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

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

The Medford School District and partners that operate clinics in Medford schools didn't receive any vaccine and don't expect to, said Tania Tong, Medford's supervisor of student services.

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

The number of absences among students with flu-like symptoms 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.

County health officials are no longer requiring schools to report such absences.

District health officials plan to administer the vaccine to high-risk students first, and then to other students.

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 an 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 an appointment, e-mail Belinda Brown, school nurse, at nurse@ashland.k12.or.us.

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 482-3456, ext. 226, or hguzik@dailytidings.com.