With the 2009-2010 school year well under way and last year’s H1N1, or swine flu, outbreak still fresh in the minds of parents, educators and city officials, the city Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Education (DOE) have launched an effort to stop the virus in its tracks.
The second phase of the city’s three-pronged, school-based approach to combating swine flu kicked off Wednesday, November 4, with public elementary schools with enrollment above 600 students beginning their vaccination of children whose parents had filled out consent forms.
Phase one of the program began on Wednesday, October 28, when 125 public elementary school buildings with less than 400 students accessed the first of an initial 40,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine allotted to the city school system.
The third phase of the initiative starts on Monday, November 9 in the remaining public elementary schools, and weekend vaccine sites will be established in each borough for middle and high school students.
Non-public schools that opted into the program will also receive doses of the vaccine.
“Since immunization is the best way to prevent the spread of H1N1 in schools and throughout the community, this initiative is essential to the city’s influenza-prevention plan,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs.
Gibbs emphasized that the vaccinations are free and will help reduce the spread of the virus to other at-risk segments of the population, such as pregnant women, health and emergency medical workers and toddlers.
The public elementary school phases of the vaccination program each last around eight weeks and are open to all students who submit a consent form, available in 10 languages, along with other information, at nyc.gov/flu.