About 500 students vaccinated against swine flu in Poplarville

Published 3:18 pm Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dr. James M. Riser said on Wednesday that about 500 school students here were vaccinated on Monday and Tuesday by health care officials, and that an additional round of vaccinations is planned for Dec. 14 to give students here another chance to get the swine flu shot.

“We had hoped for at least 1,000, but it was still very successful; a good first start,” Dr. Riser said. There are slightly over 2,000 students in the Poplarville system.

Riser of Riser Medical Associates in Picayune was in charge of the operation.

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Shots were administered by school nurses and PRCC pediatric student nurses and instructors.

Pearl River Central schools in Carriere and McNeill are scheduled to receive the shots on Saturday, Dec. 5, and Picayune students on Saturday, Dec. 12. Riser said that details of those inoculations will be released next week.

The shots here were administered by injection only and students had to have a release signed by their parents or guardians before being given the shot.

However, students 17 years old and older do not need a release form. “They can sign the form themselves. But 16 and under must have the parents’ or guardians’ okay,” said Riser.

“I believe we are one of the first in South Mississippi to have gotten these shots administered to students, and we are very proud of that. We thank the Poplarville school officials for being so cooperative in this effort,” said Riser.

Riser continued to emphasize that the swine flu shots are safe.

“The same company that makes the regular, seasonal flu shots makes the swine flu vaccine and uses the same process, so the swine flu vaccine is just as safe as the regular vaccine. We have had no adverse reactions so far,” he said.

The vaccinations are being given under an “adopt a school program,” whereby a private clinic is matched with a school and offers the mass inoculation in cooperation with school officials.

There is no charge to the student or his family for the shot.

Riser said that on Monday his clinic will begin offering swine flu shots to the general public.

“We have a target group, and we really don’t recommend it for persons 65 and older who are in good health, unless they are a health care worker or taking care of a baby six months or younger,” he said.

Priority groups are: Children six months and to the age of 4, pregnant women, and parents, siblings, caregivers and anyone else living in the house with an infant under six months of age, and 25 to 65-year-olds with underlying illnesses.

However, Riser said that his clinic will not turn anyone down who requests a shot.

The county health department also is administering swine flu shots. The clinic is located at Carriere on U.S. Highway 11 North.

Local retail stores contacted were not sure about when they will be receiving swine flu shots. Spokespersons with Walgreens and with Winn-Dixie said they are expecting to receive the vaccine but did not know when supplies might arrive.

Kristi Coleman, a medical technician with Urgent Care on Memorial Blvd., said the clinic has the mist-type swine flu vaccine. She said patients have to be between ages 2 to 49 to receive the mist vaccine.

Urgent Care’s hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.