FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, HEALTH COMMISSIONER FARLEY AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR KLEIN URGE FAMILIES TO RETURN CONSENT FORMS SO CHILDREN CAN PARTICIPATE IN CITY PROGRAM THAT OFFERS FREE H1N1 FLU IMMUNIZATION IN SCHOOLS
Parents and Guardians Will Receive H1N1 Flu Vaccination Consent Packets Beginning this Week
Forms Available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu - Can Also Be Downloaded and Printed from www.nyc.gov/flu
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today urged parents to read, complete, and return the consent forms being sent home starting this week that allow children to take advantage of the free H1N1 flu vaccinations being offered in schools this fall. While City officials encourage parents to have their children vaccinated by the child's existing medical provider, all city elementary school students will take home information packets over the next two weeks that provide additional details on the City's program to offer free H1N1 flu vaccines in schools. The forms, which parents can also download from nyc.gov/flu, are available in 10 languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. The Mayor was also joined at Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan by Deputy Mayor for Education Dennis M. Walcott.
"The immunization is free, we're offering it to all students, and we hope parents take us up on the opportunity to protect their children from the H1N1 flu," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Besides protecting their own children from the H1N1 virus, parents who take advantage of the free immunizations will help reduce the ability of the H1N1 flu to spread throughout the entire school community."
"Although we encourage all parents to have their children vaccinated by a regular health care provider, this vaccination program is to make sure all children have the opportunity to be vaccinated " said Commissioner Farley. "We saw last spring that children are particularly likely to get this infection. While most who get H1N1 influenza recover quickly, some will develop a very serious illness. Vaccination is the best way to protect your child and others from the virus."
"Parents can help keep their children healthy this year by getting them vaccinated against the H1N1 influenza," said Chancellor Klein. "This week, elementary school and District 75 principals will backpack home the consent forms, which are available in 10 languages. I encourage parents to have their children vaccinated by their regular health care providers, if possible. If that's not an option, I urge parents to return the completed consent forms and have their children vaccinated at school."
The Mayor and city officials also announced a three-phase schedule for public elementary school vaccination clinics. Phase one will begin on October 28 in school buildings with enrollments of less than 400, for whom vaccination can be conducted by the school nurse. Phase two starts November 4 in school buildings with enrollments of more than 600, and phase three begins November 9 in the remaining schools. These vaccinations will be conducted during regular school days and will continue for approximately eight weeks. Non public schools that choose to participate will also be scheduled to receive vaccine during this period. Weekend vaccination events for middle-school and high-school students will be held in each borough during November and December.
More than 600 providers, including hospital clinics, community health centers, and private pediatricians, that requested H1N1 vaccine will have doses in stock and ready to administer by the end of this week. Though the H1N1 vaccine is now increasingly available for children and health care providers who want to be immunized, the federal government has yet to distribute enough vaccine to cover other populations. Federal authorities expect allocations to increase in coming weeks. The City's program to offer free flu vaccines in schools is intended to ensure that every parent who wants to have their child immunized is able to do so.
In addition to students receiving consent forms to bring home, parents can also download the forms from nyc.gov/flu, sign the printed copies and send them back to school with their children. All materials are available in 10 languages including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. Consent forms will also be available at the weekend vaccination sites for middle-school and high-school students. More information about influenza is available at nyc.gov/flu or by calling 311.
The H1N1 vaccine comes in two forms: an injection and a nasal spray. Children may receive one form or the other, as determined by the nurse upon review of relevant information on the consent and screening forms completed by parents. Children 10 years old and under will need two doses of the vaccine to get full protection. Once vaccinated, it takes about 10 days to develop an immunity to the H1N1 virus. Parents will receive written confirmation that their child has received the immunization at school, and are instructed to give a copy to the child's medical provider.
The H1N1 vaccine is produced in exactly the same way that seasonal flu vaccines are routinely produced, and it has been rigorously tested. The difference in this case is that it helps the immune system recognize and combat the H1N1 virus, rather than the seasonal variety flu. As with any vaccine, flu vaccines can cause mild side effects, but serious reactions are exceedingly rare.
The seasonal flu vaccine does not provide immunity against the H1N1 virus. New Yorkers wanting protection will need to get a separate vaccine, which is available through health care providers and pharmacies.
Because certain people are at increased risk of complications from H1N1 flu, vaccination against this virus is especially important for them. The following people should receive the H1N1 vaccine:
The City's Flu Prevention Strategy
In early September, Mayor Bloomberg outlined the City's comprehensive flu prevention strategy, including offering free vaccinations for H1N1 to elementary school students whose parents want them to receive it; encouraging New Yorkers to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated; helping people with flu-like illness manage their symptoms and find care; working with hospitals to ensure the availability of expanded emergency room capacity if it is needed; and designating primary-care clinics as "flu centers" that can give vaccinations, information and outpatient care. The program was the result of the work performed by 15 interagency working groups that met throughout the summer.
Additionally, the City is tracking rates of flu-like illness and the different types of flu viruses that are circulating; posting daily and weekly updates on the City's flu web portal; providing a daily public report listing all schools reporting five or more cases of flu like illness; and launching a flu-prevention campaign that includes signs, posters and classroom instruction.
Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker (212) 788-2958
Jessica Scaperotti (Health)
David Cantor (Education)
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