Parent on flu clinic: ‘I feel pretty confident that it is going to be safe’

About 25 parents and their little ones lined up outside the Mesa County Health Department before 10 a.m. Friday to get themselves and their children vaccinated against the H1N1 influenza virus.

As of 3 p.m., 176 people had received their doses at the free clinic. These consisted of nasal mist, rather than the old-fashioned needle. Medical professionals call the mist applications “live, attenuated (weakened) intra-nasal vaccine.”

“It’s fast,” Samantha Morby said.

She and her husband, Dan Morby, wanted themselves and their children vaccinated because they have a newborn and another child who is 2 1/2 years old. Parents and those who care for toddlers or infants are being encouraged by the medical community to be vaccinated.

But the tears streaming down the face of the Morbys’ freshly vaccinated toddler showed that even though science can take the pain out of the shot, it cannot take the fear out of the child.

“This is a lot better (than the needle), with the exception of the crying,” Dan Morby said.

Parents were aware of concerns about the vaccine. Green fliers, circulated by the Health Department, listed advice on what to do in the event of a severe reaction.

“Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat or dizziness,” according to the flier.

Those waiting in line said it was too risky not to get their child vaccinated.

“We don’t want to run the risk,” said Manda Gabelson, who brought her children, a 2-month-old and 2-year-old. “I thought about that coming over here. I would rather trust the medical professionals than the fears that are out there based on nothing concrete.”

Another parent, Chandra Brown, whose 3-year-old daughter was a rambunctious bundle of smiles while waiting in line and a screaming, crying, pouty princess after her vaccination, said the same.

“It is for her protection,” Brown said. “I just feel it is better to get her vaccinated. I feel pretty confident it is going to be safe.”

Once inside the Health Department, parents and children were escorted to a back room. They waited in lines that had two stops.  The first stop was with a Health Department employee that inputted vital statistics and identifying information into a database. At the second station a person waited with rubber gloves and the vaccine. Two squirts from the mister, half in each nostril, and the vaccination was finished.

The mist application of the vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus, unlike the traditional shot. Other than that, the two forms of vaccination are made in the exact same way, said Tawny Espinoza, a spokeswoman for the Health Department.

The mist is absorbed directly into the mucous membrane and allows people to develop immunity quicker and at a higher level than traditional vaccinations administered via the needle, according to the Health Department.

To be completely effective, children 9 and younger need to receive two doses, separated by 30 days. Older children and adults need only one dose, according to the Health Department.

An initial 600 doses are just the beginning of vaccinations against swine flu. Next week and during the weeks thereafter, Mesa County will receive more shipments of the vaccine, and they will be administered in accordance with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Espinoza said.

The vaccine is only for protection from the swine flu. For protection from the seasonal flu, which is a different strain,  another flu shot is required.


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