Vaccination City

More than 1,000 people received H1N1 flu vaccine Thursday at Sweet Home High School, while absence rates declined last week throughout Sweet Home schools, after reaching 40 percent at Foster School.

Foster was recovering, with less than 20 percent absent on Friday.

Eight nurses from the Linn County Health Department started administering vaccines at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Schools Supt.

Larry Horton said. They were supposed to end at 7 p.m., but when he checked at 7:30 p.m., they still had a good-sized line.

Those treated were listed as priorities for the vaccine, including those between ages 6 months and 24 years old, pregnant women, those suffering from certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and those caring for children too young to receive the vaccine.

“As far as I know there was more than enough vaccine for those who wanted it,” Horton said.

Across the district, absentee rates are hovering in the low teens to 20 percent by the end of the week, with Foster still the highest, Horton said.

“We’ve had a significant decrease in the number of absences this week over last week,” Horton said. He is hoping that with the vaccine administered those rates will continue to decrease.

Horton told the School Board during its regular meeting on Nov. 9 there are no plans to close schools.

“We have been told to keep the schools open,” he said. There’s a lot of pressure to close schools, but the Health Department doesn’t believe it will solve any problems.

It’s community, state, national and international problem, he said. If people are leaving their homes, they’re going to be exposed regardless of whether school is closed.

If staffing problems persisted, Horton said, then he would consider closing schools.

Foster was the only school with significant staff absences, he said.

The school has had no difficulty getting substitutes, Principal Glenna DeSouza said.

Based on data for the week of Nov. 1-7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Nov. 13 that flu activity in the United States remains high, but visits to doctors for influenza-like illness decreased except for one region, including New England states.

The CDC received reports of 35 flu-related pediatric deaths during that week, with 26 associated with laboratory-confirmed H1N1. Since April, the CDC has received 156 reports of laboratory-confirmed pediatric deaths associated with H1N1 in addition to 22 additional pediatric deaths from laboratory-confirmed influenza A of an unknown subtype and one confirmed seasonal influenza case.

Since August, the CDC has received reports of 98 H1N1 pediatric deaths and 117 overall influenza-related deaths.