Richland 2 leads area in vaccinations

Forty-six percent of students in Richland 2 got the H1N1 vaccine through their schools, the highest percentage among districts reporting those numbers to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

That doesn't necessarily mean Richland 2 is No. 1. The state is divided into eight health regions, and some regions didn't report numbers for each school district. But Richland 2 has the best numbers among those that reported by district.

Because the regions haven't been using standardized reporting methods, an accurate percentage of schoolchildren vaccinated in the entire state isn't yet available. Early numbers indicate the statewide average probably will be close to the 30 percent anticipated by health officials, who are pleased with the success of the school vaccination program.

"We've learned a lot," said Jim Beasley, a spokesman for the state health department. "It's the first actual pandemic in a long time, and it involved coordination through every level."

Because of delays in the arrival of vaccine, a few schools still haven't received their first round of shots. But most school districts have offered shots in all of their schools, with a second round of shots awaiting children younger than 10 in most elementary schools. Older children need only one shot to build up immunity to swine flu.

The vaccine now is readily available at doctors' offices and pharmacies, but schools were the only places most children could get the vaccine in November and early December.

Here are a few of the numbers reported to DHEC:

- In the Midlands, the percentages were broken down by school district. In addition to Richland 2, several districts topped 40 percent - Lexington 4 at 42 percent, Richland-Lexington 5 at 41 percent, and Lexington 2 and Newberry at 40 percent each. The numbers were slightly lower in Lexington 1 (38 percent) and Richland 1 (37 percent). Lexington 3 at 20 percent and Fairfield at 17 percent were on the low end.

- Lexington 1 provided The State a school-by-school breakdown. New Providence Elementary School had the highest vaccination rate (59.6) in the district, and White Knoll High School had the lowest (10.27). The percentage went down as the age of the students went up - 48.5 percent in elementary schools, 40.4 percent in middle schools and 13.7 percent in high schools.

- The health region that includes Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Saluda and Oconee counties reported an regionwide rate of 33 percent of students getting shots.

- The health region that includes Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties also reported an overall rate of 33 percent.

- In the southeast corner of the state, percentages were slightly lower: 24.8 in northern Beaufort, 38.9 in southern Beaufort, 24 in Colleton, 22.5 in Hampton and 28.7 in Jasper.