H1N1 vaccinations are completely voluntary. Public health nurses will not vaccinate anyone without consent. No child at a school-based flu shot clinic will be vaccinated without a signed Parent/Guardian Consent Form returned to the school office by the day before a scheduled clinic.
There is no cost for H1N1 vaccinations through the Health Department. Some private doctors' offices have ordered H1N1 vaccine for their patients and may be charging a fee to give the shots.
"We're preparing packets now for parents and guardians--elementary students will bring them home in weekly folders and, to make sure parents or guardians receive it, we're mailing packets home to middle and high school students," Fralick said. These parent/guardian packets include a letter describing the local H1N1 initiative, times, dates, and locations of flu shot clinics in their neighborhood, a fact sheet about the H1N1 vaccine, and the Parent/Guardian Consent Form.
Vaccination is the best protection against the H1N1 flu and seasonal flu viruses, according to Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department. "With two or more influenza viruses circulating, any parent who wants their child to avoid four to seven days of fever, sore throat and body aches should get them vaccinated," he said. "And H1N1 can be a serious illness, even in healthy children and adults."
H1N1 is extremely contagious, Meyerson explained. "Because H1N1 is a new virus, no one has immunity from it. It can cause very serious illness, although most healthy people who contract H1N1 recover without medical treatment," he added According to the U.S. Centers for Control (CDC) & Prevention, the groups of people who are most likely to develop complications from the flu are:
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For the most current information about H1N1 flu or flu shot clinics, visit www.nwhealth.org.