The city is reneging on its plan to open swine flu vaccine clinics for middle and high school students after weeks of assuring concerned parents their kids would be first in line, according to a report.
Young people with swine flu are at a much higher risk than the general population for developing complications related to the illness. Acknowledging parents' concerns for their children's safety, the city unveiled its intentions to open weekend vaccine clinics for older students in November and December.
Now, however, things have changed.
The special clinics will be available to all New Yorkers – and the 500,000 middle and high-school students won't get first dibs on the vaccine, reports the Daily News.
The sudden change in plan has some parents of those students both annoyed and concerned.
"This means my daughter isn't guaranteed to get a shot? That's ridiculous," Johnel Riley, the father of a 7th-grade student at a Manhattan middle school, told the News. "What if our kids get sick because these centers don't have enough for those that need it?"
Public and private elementary schools will still have on-site vaccine centers for younger students beginning tomorrow, but older students won't get any priority.Part of the reason for the change in plan is that the city won't differentiate between individuals who are at high risk for developing swine flu complications and those who aren't. Since vaccine centers won't have patient health records on hand, someone could feasibly lie and say they have asthma, which could trigger swine flu complications, just to get ahead in line, Erin Brady, a spokeswoman for the city's health department, told the News.
The city has already gotten nearly 400,000 doses of the swine flu vaccine, most of which were administered to healthcare providers who deal with at-risk patients. Health officials told the News they expect to receive 800,000 more doses by the end of October and maintain it'll be sufficient to go around.
That hasn't been the case in New Jersey, however, where about 1,000 people were turned away yesterday when doses ran out at a flu clinic.
Assistant Public Health Coordinator Daniel Regenye says Monday's clinic in Jackson Township was scheduled from 3 to 7:30 p.m., but people starting showing up as early as 9 a.m. Ocean County health officials will meet today to discuss how to handle the crowd expected at another clinic that's scheduled for Thursday in Stafford Township.
The county says additional shipments of swine flu vaccine are expected.
In New York, parents of older students want to make sure their kids aren't turned away.
"It doesn't make any sense that they wouldn't make sure that students can get these shots – they're the ones that need them," Ricardo Welch, father of a 7th-grader at a Harlem middle school, told the News.
The flu clinics are slated to begin opening on Nov. 7 in all five boroughs. Click here for more information and a list of locations and schedules.