Turning a corner today in its H1N1 vaccination campaign, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) concluded its first round of school-based H1N1 vaccination clinics and opened vaccine up to new populations in the state.
First round of school-based clinics a success
In the first round of HEALTH’s school-based vaccination program more than 113,000 children from kindergarten through grade 12 received the H1N1 vaccine. The first round of the program spanned six weeks and 28 school days. Of the students enrolled in schools that hosted clinics during this time period, approximately three-fourths received the vaccine.
“We are thrilled by this unprecedented level of success in vaccinating school-aged children,” said Director of Health, David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “The hard work of schools’ faculty members and the dedication of the members of Rhode Island Medical Reserve Corps made the success of the first phase of our school-based H1N1 vaccination program possible.”
More than 750 volunteers from the Rhode Island Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) logged more than 12,000 hours running 421 clinics for children in public, private, and parochial schools and for children who are home-schooled. MRC volunteers will continue to vaccinate school-agedchildren who are younger than 10 years of age in HEALTH’s second round of school-based vaccination clinics, which will begin in mid January. Children who are younger than 10 years of age need second doses to ensure full immunity. HEALTH will release a schedule for this second round of school-based clinics after the holiday.
H1N1 vaccine availability
With the close of the first round of school-based H1N1 vaccination clinics, the following populations can now receive H1N1 vaccine from their Rhode Island healthcare providers who have enrolled in the H1N1 vaccination program:
- Children in kindergarten through grade 12 who did not receive their first doses of H1N1 vaccine at their schools. - Adults through the age of 24. - Adults through the age of 64 with chronic illnesses.
“We hope that as vaccine becomes available to different populations throughout the state, individuals will continue to make the wise decision to vaccinate themselves and their loved ones against H1N1 flu,” Gifford said. “H1N1 flu is a potentially dangerous virus and we fully expect to see another surge of illness in the coming months.”
Adults with chronic illnesses include those with chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, blood disorders, and immunosuppression due to disease or medications. Healthcare providers have been urged to contact their patients with chronic illnesses.
College and university H1N1 flu vaccination clinics
H1N1 vaccination clinics continue to run on the campuses of colleges, universities, and technical schools for enrolled students through the age of 24. HEALTH will run an H1N1 vaccination clinic for Rhode Islanders who are younger than 24 years of age and who attend out-of-state colleges and universities. Although HEALTH has not yet announced the date of these clinics, students can pre-register for this clinic on HEALTH’s website (www.health.ri.gov) through December 21 (this date represents a deadline extension). Pre-registration for this clinic is mandatory.
For more information about H1N1 flu and HEALTH’s vaccination plan, see www.health.ri.gov. With H1N1 flu-related questions, write to H1N1@health.ri.gov or call HEALTH’s H1N1 Information Line (401-222-8022). Responders on this line are prepared to answer questions in both English and Spanish.