Swine Flu Vaccine to Be Given to City Elementary School Students

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The city of Berkeley's Public Health Division is holding H1N1 vaccine clinics for all Berkeley public elementary schools next week, marking the beginning of an effort to distribute the vaccine to all Berkeley students.

Middle school and high school students can expect similar vaccination clinics, tentatively starting Dec. 7, said division spokesperson Zandra Lee.

The vaccine provided by the city's Public Health Division is optional and free for all students in the Berkeley Unified School District. In order for students to receive the free vaccine, parents must fill out a consent form prior to their child's school's scheduled clinic.

Lee said the priority now is to provide the vaccine for the younger, most vulnerable students in the district.

The division has not yet received enough vaccines for middle and high school students. The date for the vaccine distribution at these schools depends upon vaccine availability.

"At this point, because this is a brand new (vaccine) ... (distribution) is slower than originally anticipated," Lee said.

According to Lee, 11 cases of the virus have been reported in Berkeley, but other cases have gone unreported

due to mild symptoms. Specific numbers for student cases are unavailable.

While students at Berkeley middle schools and high schools do not yet have access to the Public Health Division's free vaccination clinics, Lee said there are other venues where these students can get the vaccine before the tentative Dec. 7 distribution.

"What we're telling people is that they should call their doctors, because some doctors have gotten shipments," she said.

Lee added that students and their families can consider using community H1N1 vaccine clinics in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

Despite these options, Lee said there are probably very few students who have received the vaccine from their doctors, since Berkeley health care providers have experienced the same difficulties in getting the vaccine.

Though the vaccine is in high demand nationally, district Parent Teacher Student Association Vice President Mark van Krieken said he is not concerned about its availability for the city's middle and high school students.

"I have a lot of faith in our public health officials," he said. "I have a lot of confidence that whatever they get ... will first go to the city's children."


Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]

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