November 4, 2009 9:45:00 AM
Starkville school officials on Tuesday gave their consent to a state Health Department program to vaccinate the district''s school children against the H1N1 virus.
The board gave consent without a vote to allow the Mississippi Department of Health, operating through the local health department, to offer free H1N1 immunizations to all school children in the Starkville School District. The immunizations will be administered during the first week of December.
Marsha Eaves, Mississippi Department of Health District IV immunization nurse, told the board about the plan to vaccinate students for the virus.
"What we know about the novel H1N1 virus is that younger children and pregnant women are at the highest risk," Eaves said. "In order to get to that population, we need to go through the schools."
She said the vaccinations will be provided at no cost to students or the district, and parents will have to accept or decline the vaccine for each child. Eaves said it would help if the schools provided parent volunteers to move students smoothly through the process.
Children age 9 and younger will have to have two vaccinations for the virus spaced four weeks apart. Those older than 9 need only one vaccination.
"If we give the first dose, we will be there to give the second one," Eaves said.
Coble asked if sufficient supplies of the vaccine will be available, and Eaves said she is confident they will be. She said they anticipate a 70 percent participation rate for the free vaccinations.
Superintendent Judy Couey said the district would do what it can to help, including getting word out to parents concerning the required consent form.
In other business, Couey asked for and was granted board permission to use district assessment data for her doctorate dissertation. She said the data she gathers would be used for her dissertation and for ongoing school improvement efforts.
The board also unanimously approved a dual enrollment agreement between the school district and MSU, allowing participating students in certain courses to get both Starkville High and MSU credit for the same classes. They will be enrolled as students in both schools and will have to pay MSU fees, but will receive college credit for the course hours, which will also count toward high school graduation.
"I think this gives our students a great advantage," Coble said.
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