Call to vaccinate for swine flu

THE deadline is looming for parents to get school supplies ready for the new year and this time around there is an extra item on the ‘to-do’ list.

The State Government is encouraging all parents to vaccinate school-aged children against the potentially fatal swine flu.

Although new cases of the flu, also known as H1N1, have not been reported since the end of winter, North Coast Area Health Service public health director Paul Corben said early vaccinations would help keep the virus at bay after it has re-emerged in the Northern hemisphere.

Two North Coast residents and another 191 Australians died from swine flu last winter.

Still, it is one item on the check list that mother of four and proprietor of Complete Uniform Solutions Soraya Barnham does not intend to cross off.

“My two oldest go to boarding school and they have been told they have to have one, but I’m not vaccinating my two youngest,” she said.

“Just from my own experience I once got vaccinated and got the flu worse than I’ve ever had it, so I don’t want to put my boys through that.”

She is not alone. State-wide about 20 per cent of the population have taken up the offer of a free vaccination, but the level of vaccinations on the North Coast is much lower than the state average, Mr Corben said.

Yesterday he urged parents who are thinking about skipping the vaccination to think again.

“This flu can kill some people,” he said, adding that if enough people had the jab it would also protect those who couldn’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Mr Corben said kids were particularly susceptible to the disease, with almost 75 per cent of children aged nine or under hospitalised with swine flu having no underlying conditions that made them more vulnerable to the virus.

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