Region's schools prepare to offer shots

The first Tupelo students are set to roll up their sleeves for swine flu shots Monday at Thomas Street, Church Street and Joyner elementary schools.
“We’re encouraging parents to be here if they’d like to be,” said Church Street Principal Kay Collins.
The voluntary school vaccine programs started this past week across Mississippi as shots against the novel H1N1 flu virus became available. The rest of Tupelo Public School District will have the opportunity for shots over the next two weeks.
On Wednesday, Plantersville students will become the first Lee County Schools students to receive the shots, said Debbie Pickens, secondary curriculum coordinator.
Schools in Shannon, Verona and Belden are scheduled for the vaccination program between Nov. 30 and Dec. 10. Mooreville, Saltillo and Guntown schools have been adopted by private clinics and have not yet set dates.
“We’ll be sending home forms as soon as we get them,” Pickens said.
The swine flu shots are available free at county health departments across the state.
The school program is voluntary, and school staff and nurses will not hold a child down for the shots, Collins said. Students who balk at the vaccination will get a referral to the Lee County Health Department, where they can receive the shot with a parent’s help.
Some parents have expressed concern over the mild allergic reactions of two Caledonia High School students, but health officials say the children receiving shots are monitored for reactions and nurses can treat any reactions on site.
Vaccinations went smoothly at West Corinth Elementary on Thursday, said Corinth Superintendent Lee Childress. Alcorn County Schools are set to offer the shots next week.
Baldwyn Schools are working with the state health department to set up the vaccine program.
Several Northeast Mississippi districts are working with the health department or private providers to offer vaccine programs, including Baldywn, New Albany, Pontotoc County, Prentiss County, South Tippah, Tishomingo County and Union County.
Nettleton Schools are sending forms home next week to gauge parent interest. Aberdeen and West Point school boards are expected to decide Monday whether to offer shots.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (601) 353-3119 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal