Posted: Oct 21, 2009 10:23 AM by Kate Mundy
Updated: Oct 21, 2009 10:23 AM
Louisiana's death toll from the swine flu has risen to 24. According to the health department, four more residents have died.
Meanwhile, plans are being finalized to protect children from the virus. Several parishes in Acadiana are going forward with plans to vaccinate students.
School districts in Jeff Davis, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes have agreed to the vaccinations. Acadia has decided not to offer the free vaccines. Lafayette Parish Schools are expected to make a decision this week, all other Acadiana parishes are waiting until surveys come back to decide.
Experts say vaccinating children is a priority, since they're more likely than others to contract the virus. In Vermilion Parish, the school board made the move to offer swine flu vaccinations following an automated phone survey of parents. More than 23-hundred responded and two-thirds of those parents wanted their children vaccinated.
With the swine flu sickening thousands in the state, Kaplan Elementary School children are being told to wash their hands often and cough into their sleeves.
Vermilion Parish is trying to stay ahead of the swine flu outbreak, by offering free vaccinations to students in pre-k through 12th grade. "We've heard of some stories in other parishes where there's been extensive illnesses and a lot of absences of students and it's hit those parishes hard so our parish has tried to be proactive," said Kaplan Elementary School Principal Paul Hebert.
Kaplan mother of two Ena Hebert, plans to get her children vaccinated. "I think getting the flu shot is the right thing for the parents to do," said Ena.
Students are not obligated to get the vaccines, but those who do won't get them for another six to eight weeks. Children under age ten will need two doses.
Vermilion Parish Superintendent Randy Schexnayder says the clinics will be after school at the five parish high schools. No date has been set, but the shipments could arrive between mid-November and early December.
St. Martin Parish schools are meeting with the Regional Director of Department of Health and Hospitals on Wednesday. They hope to iron out the plans for their clinic, including how much help the parish will need for the distribution.
According to Jody West, of St. Martin Parish Schools, the first round will be nasal vaccines. The injections will be offering during a second round of shots. The vaccinations will be offered in St. Martin Parish schools during school hours.