Schools administering flu vaccine through nasal spray

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis Municipal Schools Director of Health Services Rhonda Sparks and Curry County Field Health Office Nurse Manager Gayla Jacquess screen flu vaccination consent forms to make sure students are qualified and forms are filled out correctly.

Liliana Castillo

Nursing staff will take half the time, and give much less pain, administering flu vaccines this year at Clovis schools.

The district received only doses of flu mist this year, which is a live vaccine.

Director of Health Services Rhonda Sparks said the New Mexico Department of Health purchased the vaccine for the district and her department have no control over which type of vaccine they give.

Sparks said giving a live-virus vaccine, as opposed to the dead virus found in an injection, means children with asthma, diabetes or any other immune suppressing disease can’t receive the mist. Sparks said the live vaccine is more of a threat to their already compromised immune systems.

“Students with those issues will have to get the vaccine from their primary physician,” Sparks said.

The mist is given as a nose spray. Curry County Field Health Office Nurse Manager Gayla Jacquess said the mist gives immediate immunity when it is absorbed into the mucus membrane while a shot takes about a week to build up an immunity.

Last year, Sparks and her staff, with help from Jacquess, administered 4,500 doses of seasonal flu vaccine and 2,800 doses of H1N1 vaccine.

This year, the flu vaccine is a combination of vaccines for A/H1N1, A/H3N2 and influenza B.

Jacquess said vaccines are made for strains that presented the most last year.

Sparks said her staff collected consent forms Monday and will start administering the mist next week, beginning Monday.

Sparks said getting a flu vaccination is one piece of flu prevention. She said it’s important to wash hands, cover coughs, stay home when sick and keep kids home when sick to also protect yourself and those around you.

Jacquess said are no new strains of flu this year. She said flu symptoms are more prevalent from October through February.

Jacquess and Sparks said flu shots should be available at doctor’s offices, public health offices, veterans’ affairs clinic, Plains Regional Medical Center, La Casa Family Health Center and local pharmacies.