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CMS gears up to vaccinate students against swine flu

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is preparing to begin vaccinating school children against the H1N1 flu virus in the coming weeks. Tomorrow, parents will begin receiving permission slips. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: The H1N1 vaccine is now beginning to arrive in large enough numbers that Mecklenburg County hopes to offer it in CMS schools by the end of November. But the timing will depend on arrival of vaccine supplies. Tomorrow, CMS parents will begin receiving information packets they must sign and return quickly in order to have their children vaccinated. Mecklenburg County Medical Director Stephen Keener says parents will not be able to designate the type of vaccine their child will receive at school. "We do not know from week to week, how much of each kind of vaccine we are going to receive," says Dr. Keener. "So what we get, is what we get both in type of vaccine and in number." Dr. Keener recommends parents with concerns about a particular form of the swine flu vaccine, either as an injection or nasal mist, take their child to a private doctor. "We certainly support parents whose children have a private pediatrician or family physician to get their shot from their regular provider," says Keener. "We think that's the best thing. However we know that not everybody's going to be able to do that. Assistant CMS Superintendent Barb Pellin says parents should seriously consider having their child vaccinated, but: "The purpose of the clinics was not to convince folks, but to really provide a service to our children and families and to respond to any questions they might have," says Pellin. Gaston County Public Schools began offering the swine flu vaccine on Monday. Cabarrus County plans to distribute the vaccine at community clinics, rather than in schools. Community-wide, Novant and Carolinas HealthCare Systems have received the largest shipments of H1N1 vaccine - a total of about 70,000 doses. They are being given to hospital workers, as well as young children and pregnant women who are patients of doctors affiliated with the two hospital systems. Private medical clinics and local universities are also receiving H1N1 vaccine directly from the state. However, health officials say supplies in the Charlotte region are still too limited to make available to the general public.