Bridgewater-Raynham prioritizing flu-shot recipients

Rebecca Hyman and Susan Parkou Weinstein

The Bridgewater-Raynham school district began its first round of flu clinics this week after receiving 100 swine flu vaccine doses from the state and another 100 doses from the Bridgewater Board of Health.

The number was a far cry from the 3,400 requested but it would reach the most “medically fragile” students, Bridgewater-Raynham head nurse Marie Fahey said.

“Hopefully, our full order will be filled soon,” Fahey told the B-R school Committee. “We don’t want to turn anyone away, but we have to prioritize.”

Fahey said the nursing staff had been working non-stop to contact parents of high-risk students and find out if their children still need the H1N1 shots.

Fahey and the district physician also met with the health board representatives from both towns on Thursday to work out the invitation-only distribution process. She said the schools would be allowed to decide for themselves whether to run the mini-clinics during the school day or after hours.

Each of the schools was to be given about 20 to 25 doses of vaccine, even though Bridgewater was donating part of its allotment.

“We’re all working together on this,” Fahey said.

School nurses will also be vaccinated, as they come in contact with students who have contracted the virus.

The shots were offered first to immuno-suppressed and diabetic students. If available, the next group to be offered the shots would be students with asthma.

Close to 10 percent of the student population is asthmatic, Fahey said. That’s almost 500 students.

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has told us to be patient, there will be much more vaccine coming,” she said.

On a motion by School Committee member Gordon Luciano, the board unanimously voted to give Fahey the authority to decide how to distribute the limited supply of H1N1 vaccine.

“It’s vitally important we put the decision making of who gets it in the hands of our medical professionals,” Luciano said.

Parents or other guardians are requested to accompany their children, Superintendent Jacqueline Forbes said.

There is no charge for the shots, Fahey said.

“We want to do this as fairly and equitably as we can and as quickly as we can,” Fahey said.

“By the time we get the vaccine we want to make sure the majority of children haven’t already had the virus,” she said.

Fahey said all of the schools in the district are seeing increases in the number of new cases of students with flu-like symptoms, which are presumed to be cases of H1N1, but no “alarming” jumps, Fahey said.

Raynham Call