Northgate students to receive vaccine

With school children now considered the group most at risk of getting the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus this year, the Northgate School District will be working with the state health department to provide students and faculty with the new vaccine created to combat the virus.

Superintendent Dr. Reggie Bonfield said that the state has changed initial plans that called for schools to close if the flu spread through classrooms.

“Now they’re talking about how to keep schools open,” he told school board members at their Sept. 15 committee of the whole meeting.

Bonfield said that the state has dedicated some $54 million to preventing the spread of the H1N1 virus in schools, and Northgate is expected to act as a vaccinating agency. That means that students will be able to receive the vaccine at the district’s schools, preferably on evenings or weekends when they can be accompanied by their parents.

But just in case an epidemic occurs, district officials are tweaking a pandemic plan that will allow them to continue educating as many children as possible.

State health officials are focusing on prevention, however, and are urging parents to instill practices such as frequent hand-washing in their children. Parents also are asked not to send sick children back to school until they have been naturally free of fever for at least 24 hours.

Bonfield said that the district expects to receive the vaccine sometime in mid-October, and will notify parents when specific plans are in place for vaccinating children.

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