Health & Fitness

FAQ, resources on Midlands swine flu vaccines

Parents in most Midland school districts already have received permission forms for in-school swine flu inoculations Here are some frequently asked questions about the vaccine, flu clinics and progress in various school districts: Check back for daily updates. If you have a question, share in the comment section below, and we’ll try to find an answer.

Where can I get a swine flu vaccine?

First, check with your healthcare provider to see if they have vaccine available and plan to offer shots or mist vaccine to their patients. They are probably your most convenient option.

If that doesn’t work, try searching online. The first stop for public clinics is As of Monday, no public clinics in Richland or Lexington were offering H1N1, or swine flu, shots for the public. The Kershaw and Sumter county clinics are offering swine flu shots for high-risk groups — pregnant women, healthcare workers, anyone age 6 months through 25 years, people ages 25-64 with underlying health problems such as asthma or diabetes and anyone who cares for children younger than 6 months. Call (866) 411-5767 to reserve a time slot at the Kershaw or Sumter clinics.

Another Web site that compiles local vaccine clinic information is The only place listed locally with vaccine available is Reliant Hospice in Columbia. They only have the swine flu mist, but they are expecting to be able to offer shots soon. Call (803) 798-1102 for information.

Finally, call your local pharmacy to check on availability. Calls to major pharmacies in the area Monday found none with swine flu vaccine available, but some do have seasonal flu vaccines.

Wouldn’t it be more convenient to wait until the schools offer the shots for my children?

Yes. All local districts are offering vaccines for free for students, with minor variations in the process. All districts will have begun sending home permission forms and explanation letters by the end of this week. Some began offering the shots last week.

Can my child get the flu mist in the schools instead of a shot?

No. If you want the flu mist vaccine for your child, you’ll need to take them to a private provider or public clinic. Also keep in mind, the DHEC nurses providing the shots are not going to hold down children who throw a fit and force them to get shots. If you have a child with a strong fear of shots, take that into consideration.

Will my child have to get multiple shots?

Children 9 and younger need to get two shots to be covered for the H1N1 virus. Children 10 and older need only one. If you also want to immunize your child for seasonal flu, another shot will be required. Seasonal flu shots won’t be offered in schools with the swine flu shots.

Does my child have to get a shot?

Absolutely not. But schools request that you return the permission slip, filling out the "DO NOT WANT SHOT" side. That way they can be sure students turned over the permission form to their parents.

If my child already has had the flu this fall is a shot necessary?

Maybe. Health officials say anyone who has had a positive lab test for H1N1 definitely has built up immunity to the virus. But the vast majority of diagnoses have been based only on the nose swab rapid test, which is not completely reliable. Just to be sure, people who only have been diagnosed using the nose swab test should still get the vaccine.

Can you provide some details from the various school districts?

Lexington 1: Shots have begun in elementary schools. Doing two schools per day, the district will need several weeks to finish the first round of shots. Parents are allowed to accompany children.

Lexington 2: Shots have begun in elementary schools. Shots are being given at schools, during the school day. Family members are allowed to accompany students.

Lexington 3: Shots will be available for all children in the district 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Batesburg-Leesville High School. Parents are responsible for bringing their children to the school. Parents should have returned permission slips already.

Lexington 4: Shots have begun. Shots will be given in individual schools. Parents will be allowed to accompany children.

Richland-Lexington 5: Shots will be offered in the schools during school days, with a tentative plan to start the first round Nov. 16 and end Dec. 3. Parents will be allowed to accompany children.

Richland 1: Shots will be available at individual schools during school days. Firm dates are not available yet. Parents will be allowed to accompany children.

Richland 2: Shots have begun. Shots will be available at individual schools. Parents will not be allowed to accompany children.

Kershaw: Details for each school, including dates, depend in part on how many parents request shots for their children. Preliminary plans call for shots to be given to elementary school students in school but after school hours with a parent present. Middle and high school students will get shots in school during school hours.