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Kids May Get Swine Flu Shots First

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

U.S. schoolchildren may be first in line for swine flu vaccine this fall, and might even be able to get the shot right at school.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is taking that possible scenario to school superintendents around the country, urging them to spend the summer planning what to do if the government decides it needs their buildings for mass vaccinations.

“If you think about vaccinating kids, schools are the logical place,” Sebelius told The Associated Press.

No decision has been made yet on whether and how to vaccinate millions of Americans against the new flu strain that the World Health Organization has formally dubbed a pandemic, meaning it now is circulating the globe unchecked.

Currently, swine flu doesn’t appear any more lethal than the regular flu that strikes each winter. But scientists fear it may morph into a more dangerous strain. Regardless, it can kill, and the WHO says about half of the world’s more than 140 known deaths so far have been people who were previously young and healthy.

If that trend continues, “the target may be school-age children as a first priority” for vaccination, Sebelius said. “That’s being watched carefully.”

Those shots would be in addition to the regular winter-flu shots that will be given as usual. Health officials are working to make people understand who will need which vaccine, or maybe both.

“We really just don’t know, unfortunately, at this point,” Sebelius said, noting that those decisions will be made in part based on how swine flu behaves in the Southern Hemisphere this summer, where flu season is just beginning.

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