Ocean Springs schools may not offer Swine Flu vaccinations

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) – Ocean Springs Superintendent Dr. Robert Hirsch believes there are still too many questions swirling around the H1N1 vaccine.

"It already has some controversy. Is the government organized? Is the vaccine safe?" he asked Friday.

That's why Hirsch does not plan to offer the Swine Flu shots to more than 5,000 students in his school district.

"Our campus principals overwhelmingly expressed concerned about the program: disruption of instruction, logistics, uncertainty about the program itself, uncertainty about the vaccine," said Hirsch.

Hirsch also raised concerns about the program possibly becoming a political issue. And he said schools shouldn't be involved in a family decision.

"My position is I prefer that our school district let the parents make that decision. If they decide to go with the vaccine, let them go to their family physician, let them go to the health department."

Despite the controversy, other south Mississippi school districts are moving forward with the vaccination program.

"We are very much in support of seeing our students vaccinated against this influenza, simply because it has been stated that it mostly affects the school age child," Biloxi School Nurse Jalena Taylor said.

Friday, the Biloxi School District sent home thousands of information packets. Each contained letters from the school district and state Health Department, along with a consent form for parents to sign and what they need to know about the H1N1 vaccine.

The first shots will be given out on Tuesday.

"We'll line our children up in the selected area of the school. We'll bring the students in who have the signed consent forms. They'll be vaccinated and held in that area for 15 minutes and released to go back to class," Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hirsch is waiting to see how other school districts carry out the vaccinations.

School districts have teamed-up with local hospitals and doctors' offices to administer the vaccines. Again, the shots are voluntary and they are free of charge. Some school districts are even allowing parents to be there with their child when the shots are given out.

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