Uptake of swine flu vaccine only fifty per cent in schools

Only 50 per cent of pupils offered the swine flu vaccine in schools have availed of the jab, according to the HSE West.

A spokesperson for the health authority says the local schools programme began before Christmas with smaller schools being invited to a mass vaccination clinic.

“Currently teams are going into the larger schools (those with populations greater than 300 ) and a letter is being sent to principals and parents of students in medium sized schools to invite them to a mass vaccination clinic.”

However, so far only half of those offered the vaccine in schools have taken up the offer.

The spokesperson says while the uptake varied it was around 50 per cent.

“However there would be some overlap with other phases of the vaccination campaign ie, some children would already have received the vaccine at a HSE clinic or through their GP if they were in the ‘at risk’ group.”

She says the total number of at risk patients vaccinated to date in Galway, which includes school children from smaller schools and those vaccinated by HSE teams in larger schools, is 17,917. Nationally more than 700,000 people have been vaccinated to date.

The HSE West is urging people not to become complacent about the virus.

“While the level of the swine flu virus currently being seen in the community has reduced significantly from its peak late last year it is too early to be complacent about it. Pandemics by their nature can be unpredictable.”

The spokesperson says while we cannot predict with certainty how the virus may develop a second wave cannot be ruled out.

“We would encourage all those in the identified groups, including school children, to get the vaccine as the more people that receive the vaccine the less likely we are to see a potential second wave of the virus. Children and young people are one of the groups most affected by swine flu and HSE vaccination teams will continue to offer the vaccine through schools in the weeks ahead.”


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