The Arkansas Department of Health says the 17,000 H1N1 vaccines that arrived in Arkansas on Tuesday will be used to vaccinate school children statewide in school flu clinics.
"The Arkansas Department of Health has taken it upon themselves to actually do mass vaccinations in the school systems this year, and they're going to hopefully utilize the H1N1 vaccine in a similar manner," said Dr. Shane Speights.
Assistant Professor of Medicine Doctor Shane Speights, says the state will receive shipments of the vaccine each week. Dr. James Phillips at the Arkansas Department of Health says initial doses of the vaccine will be in the nasal flu mist form, but he says they expect to receive doses in the shot form by mid October.
"These vaccines are very safe as a matter of fact this vaccine is produced in the exact same way the seasonal flu vaccine was manufactured. As a matter of fact, just today the World Health Organization came out and said there are minimal side affects to this vaccine from what they can tell from all the studies they've done around the world thus far," said Speights.
While school children will get the vaccine first, the health department says as more H1N1 vaccines arrive, those doses will be given to other priority groups first, including pregnant women, people caring for infants under 6 months old, health care workerS, emergency medical responders, and people ages 25 to 64 years with underlying health conditions. The health department says pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions cannot receive the nasal flu mist, and will have to get the shot.
Meanwhile, Doctor Speights says if you have a mild flu like illness, your health care worker may decide not to treat you, and that's ok.
"Actually, at this point they're kind of recommending if you have a mild disease, you really don't need to be treated for that. Why are we saying that? Well, number one it acually will help your immune system. Number two, it will help us keep some of the Tamiflu and Relenza around for people that need it...the younger individuals as well as the pregnant patients," said Speights.
There will be Mass Flu Clinics on October 29th and December 1st at the ASU Football Stadium Parking Lot. They begin at 7 A.M. and end at 4 P.M.
Click on the link with this story to get details about the school flu clinics.