Saturday, September 26, 2009

Please Work Together For The Children Of Our County

DeKalb County’s District Health Director of the Board of Health, Dr. Sandra Ford has been invited to speak at several forums lately regarding the currently health issues our country and county faces. She is an excellent speaker. If any of you get the chance, please do hear her speak.

I was surprised to learn that the DeKalb County School System is not working with the Health Department to provide shots to all our children in the county for the H1 N1 virus through the schools as many school systems across the state and across the country are doing. The federal government is providing the vaccine free. The children are at the top of the list to receive the vaccine. However, DeKalb County Schools were not willing to allow the shots to be given during the school day with parent permission One reason given was because of lack of school nurses. Another reason given was the school system also did not want the school day disturbed. School officials were also unwilling to allow the vaccine to be given to children after school if parent brought the children after school because of lack of funds to pay the school nurses. Apparently the Health Department does not have the funds to pay the nurses at the Health Department overtime either.

Should our children be provided the vaccine as soon as possible? I do not understand why a school day can be disturbed for a pep rally or an assembly program and not to give children a shot which could possible save the children’s lives. Parents would have to give consent regardless before the vaccine could be given to children at school. This would give parents another choice for their children to have access to the vaccine. Is this not important for our children of DeKalb?

I am concerned about our priorities in the DeKalb County Schools. Should the health of our children not be a top priority?

After the November election, I saw all the candidates at the school board and at the county level indicating that they were going to work together. Now at the school board meetings I hear comments of anger. I think groups can disagree on certain issues but the groups must continue to work together for the benefit of its citizens and the children of DeKalb County Schools. I even support the school system disagreements on many of the counties decisions and actions. However, I hope our elected official do not lose sight that when they disagree on one topic that does not mean that they do not work together on other areas regarding our citizens of DeKalb County. The citizens of DeKalb County deserve to have elected official who will work together and who are not at battle with each.

I do not understand at all. Can someone help me understand? Is this too big of a project because we are too big of a system? Should the health of our children come first?


Cerebration said...

Good points, Ella. Why don't you ask Dr. Yvonne Butler - our new highly paid Executive Director, Corporate Wellness Program?

Anonymous said...

Here's the reason: Because Crawford lewis and his bloated Central Office staff are mediocre, and the BOE has no problem with paying millions upon millins for mediocre administrators.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:03 Here! Here! I couldn't have said it myself.

Dunwoody Mom said...

It will still be required for any child under 13 to have a written doctor's prescription to get the vaccine as well as parental permission. Might as well do it at the doctor's office, except it won't be free. I would prefer to have my children's doctor's office vaccinate them anyway.

Cerebration said...

Yes, except that 65% of students in DCSS are on free and reduced lunch and probably use the health dept for these things... Seems a partnership would be a good idea.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I am not sure how this partnership would work. How are the students going to get the doctor's prescription? It could be that it's such an administrative nightmare that it should be handled in health clinics.

No Duh said...

Those of us old enough to have the smallpox vaccine scar will remember having been given this shot at their elementary school.

I would not let the current school "nurse" at my son's school to come within a country mile of him with a needle. She is incompetent. Nice lady, but incompetent.

Ella Smith said...

I do not know other than many counties are given then to children in school.

The doctor explained that it is no different than the flu vaccine than you get in the drug store that actually sometimes your pharmacist gives to you. The dangers of taking this flu shot are the same as the regular flu short.

The shorts would be given under the care of a doctor. The Health Department would have doctors present. The prescription has been written first by the Doctors at the CDC for Children and Parent Women in the US to have the first doses of the vacination.

Again, I see no problem with parents who want their children vacinated by their local doctors to have that option.

However, I want the first one who has a dose to give it to my child and if this is the Health Department them the doctors at the Health Department can write my child a priscription just as well as my son's doctor.

Dunwoody Mom, You do have every right to not sign a form to have your child vacinated at school. However, if you go to your local doctor there will be a cost and today many people may not be able to afford that. Can you imagine the nightmare when all these people go to the Health Department to get a shot? It will be a nightmare for the Health Department and it could be prevented if the school system would work with the Health Department and other county officials.

Ella Smith said...

Many individuals in the schools are not nurses. Many times schools have school cluster nurses and this is the problem.

However, the Health Department could also send nurses to schools.

This does seem like some Cerebration that our Dr. Yvonne Butler could work on.

Many citizens at the forum were upset with Dr. Lewis and all indicated we needed a new supertendent and indicated they had felt that way for some time. I actually have no comment on this as I am not aware of his reasoning. He may have a reasoning I have not considered. That is why I asked for your input.

I understand people may not want their child to get a shot. However, this is their chose. They can say no.

Dunwoody Mom said...

My aunt is a nurse. She has explained that the process of giving vaccinations is not as simple as a nurse showing up with the needles and the medicine. There are laws and regulations that govern the disbursement of the medicine and who can give the shots. I have attached some information she sent to me.

Dunwoody Mom said...

No duh, I'm old enough to remember that. There was a Fulton County Health Center next door to the elementary school I attended. I can still remember walking over there to get the small pox vaccination.

Cerebration said...

I thought I read recently that it's not a shot - it's a nasal spray vaccine.

Cerebration said...

Yeah, I'm not as crazy as some say --

From Family Health Advisor2 hours ago:

The news released yesterday on the H1N1 flu is that the inhalant version of the vaccine will be available to families by early October and the shot by mid October, which is earlier than projected. The government has purchased 250 million doses of the vaccine for distribution in hospitals, schools, pharmacies, public health departments and stores.

The government is confident that there will be enough of the vaccine to go around, but it will be become available in waves. Therefore, they recommend that all those considered “high-risk”, especially pregnant women, health-care workers, parents and caregivers of infants younger than 6 months, children age 6 months to 4 years, and children age 4-18 with chronic medical conditions be the first in line to receive the vaccine. Next in line should be anyone between 5 to 24 years of age and people between 24 and 64 with chronic medical conditions. Once these groups have been vaccinated, it will be offered to people between ages 24 and 64. Last in line will be over 64 year olds because this group is at the lowest risk for infection.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Just curious, if a child has already had swine flu, do they still take the vaccine once it is available?

Cerebration said...

More new info is available here:

The U.S. government is a ramping up a drive to make sure that everyone in the U.S. who wants the H1N1 influenza virus vaccine can get either a shot or nasal spray for free or for a small charge.

At least 6 million vaccine doses will be distributed during the first week of October, with tens of millions to follow each week. In all, 250 million doses have been purchased by the federal government.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of the Center for Disease Control's Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, met with reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Thursday to provide an update on the national vaccination program for the H1N1 virus, often called the swine flu.

Said Sebelius, "There will be enough vaccine for every American who wants it."

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Q. Who will decide how the vaccine will be distributed?

A: State and local authorities have been putting together distribution plans with HHS overseeing the process to reach those who need it the most. The priority groups are:

Pregnant women
People who live or work with babies six months or younger
Health care workers
People between six months and 24 years old
People between 25 through 64 who have health problems.

Q. How much will the shot or nasal spray cost?

A: The vaccine is free. Providers may impose an administrative charge. Sebelius said she is asking providers to voluntarily waive fees. "So we hope by and large there won't be any financial barriers to people being vaccinated," she said.

Q. How many doses of the H1N1 virus vaccine do I need?

A: Some news here: With this latest batch of vaccine, adults and children 10 years of age and older need only one dose. Kids under 10 will need two doses.

Q. How soon after I get the vaccine will it start working?

A: More news. Much faster this time around. The protection is supposed to kick in eight to 10 days after being vaccinated.

Q. If I already had a seasonal flu shot, should I still get a H1N1 vaccination?

A: Yes. One vaccination does not protect against both strains. Seasonal flu vaccines are available now and the advice is to get it now and go for the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available in your area.

Q. Is the nasal spray for everyone?

A: No. It is not recommended for pregnant women and children under 3 or for some people with underlying conditions.

Q. Who is most at risk?

A: "The severe illness, the hospitalizations and deaths, compared with seasonal flu, is happening in younger people, so people 65 and over are not likely to die from this compared with younger people," Schuchat said.

People with underlying conditions are most at risk: for example, pregnant women, those with asthma, other respiratory diseases, diabetes.

Q. What if I get the flu?

Stay home, drink fluids, rest, don't infect others. The advice is the same whether you have seasonal flu or the H1N1 virus.

Said Schuchat, "We don't want them to come to work or school until 24 hours after their fever is gone. That will reduce the chances that they will spread the virus."

Ella Smith said...

There are regulations. However flu shots are given at Krogers stores and at CVC and at Minute Clinic now (where there are no doctors)(just a nurse).

The Health Department Director is a Pediatrician and the Health Department has many Pediatrician. A Pediatrician would be overseeing the administration of the vaccination.

As I said to start with if you ever get the opportunity to hear her speak you should. She is extremely smart and impressive. In fact all the political figures at the forum asked her why she did not run for a office herself.

The H1 N1 vaccine is no different than another vaccine. She made this extremely clear to everyone who had concerns. She said it was the same as getting the flu shot you get each year. You have the same risks with the H1 N1 flu shot.

Right now the federal government will have the first batch ready Oct. 1st which means it will be ready for disperment by about Oct. 20th by the Health Department to children and pregnant women first.
It will only be free at the Health Department. The other doctors offices are getting the H1 N1 virus free from the Health Department when they have it available to give but the private section can charge to give the short.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Currently, the health department charges $25 for the flu vaccine. Is the H1N1 vaccine the only one being offered for free? Will you still have to pay $25 for the seasonal flu vaccine?

Cerebration said...

And - for an interesting opposing opinion, check out this interview of a doctor who would not vaccinate his family due to the risks to people with fibromyalgia, other immune system problems and the potential for autism for those with a mitochondrial malformation due to the high levels of mercury and preservatives in the vaccine.

Cerebration said...

This is from the CDC in answer to your question Dunwoody Mom --

Q: Should the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine be given to someone who has had an influenza- like illness since between April and now? Do I need a test to know if I need the vaccine or not?

A. There is no test that can show whether a person had 2009 H1N1 influenza in the past. Many different infections, including influenza, can cause influenza-like symptoms such as cough, sore throat and fever. In addition, infection with one strain of influenza virus will not provide protection against other strains. People for whom influenza vaccine is recommended should receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, even if they had an influenza-like illness previously. It is not necessary to test a person who previously had an influenza-like illness. People for whom the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine is recommended should receive it, even if they have had an influenza-like illness previously, unless they can be certain they had 2009 H1N1 influenza based on a laboratory test that can specifically detect 2009 H1N1 viruses. CDC recommends that persons who were tested for 2009 H1N1 influenza discuss this issue with a healthcare provider to see if the test they had was either an RT-PCR or a viral culture that showed 2009 H1N1 influenza. There is no harm in being vaccinated if you had 2009 H1N1 influenza in the past.

Tons of info here --

fedupindcss said...

The county health department regularly comes to the schools to provide vaccinations for staff, if they want them, for tetanus, shingles, etc. No reason they couldn't work this out for the kids.

No, I would not let the school nurses do it, because the standards here are so lax. Some are good, others aren't even trained nurses.

Ella Smith said...

Now I know the people who come to North Springs to give the teachers the flu shots and charge us each year just told us to get the pneumonia shot you have to have a prescription from a doctor now. However, I did look at the AJC for tommorrow and saw the Flu shot available at the Miniclini-It states Vaccinating children 18 months and older.

I know at these locations a doctor is not there so it would appear that a precription does not have to be given to receive a shot or either a state preciption has been given through the Health Departments or something because flu shots are being given without prescriptions to young children.

I also used to be an Autism Spectrum Disorders Teacher. I understand the feelings of the parents regarding the mercury in the shots.

However, it is my understanding that shots today do no have mercury in the shots anymore. The research on this does have indication that could learn in either direction depending on which side of the fence you are on so much more research needs to be done before any scientific conclusions can be drawn. Parents also need choices.

Ella Smith said...

Another question: Do you feel the county commissioners and school board are working together or do you sense anger between some of the school board members and the county commissioners?

I have sense some anger and I wonder if that hurts the chances of things like this working out for our children. If they could work together they could find the money for the overtime after school for an option. I just see the Health Department getting swamped.

Dunwoody Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim Gokce said...

Ella said: "Do you feel the county commissioners and school board are working together ..."

Uh, no. It is frustrating that the two groups of elected officials with the greatest impact on our communities have not in the past, and do not appear to currently. work collaboratively.

That said, I will note that Patricia Pope announced at the Dunwoody-Chamblee (Cross Keys ???) Parent Council that she has hired a full time planner and that this person would attend every planning commission meeting.

This doesn't count as collaboration in my opinion but it is at least a sign that the current leadership recognizes the importance of not working in a vacuum.

Dunwoody Mom said...

HB 217, effective April 2009

No influenza vaccine protocol agreement entered into pursuant to this Code section shall permit a pharmacist or nurse to administer an influenza vaccine to any child under the age of 13 without an individual prescription from a physician, and consent of the child's parent or legal guardian shall be a condition precedent to the administration of an influenza vaccine to a child under the age of 18."

Cerebration said...

That's interesting, Dunwoody Mom. I wonder if the federal government has a plan for administering 250,000,000 vaccines in about one month. I haven't heard or read anything regarding the logistics of actually administering the shot (or mist). I hadn't really thought about it - it's a monumental task really.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Yes, cere, it's a momumental task - both at the federal, state and local levels. We'll see.

Ella Smith said...

That is interesting. Look in the paper tomorrow regarding the Minute Clinic. They have a whole back page of advertisement and I know they do not have doctors.

I can see they could do it with the schools and the Health Department as the Health Department has the doctors and is working with the federal government and the CDC. But how do the Pharmarcists and Nurses give them. The state did change the law so nurses could write some prescriptions I believe. They call them in for the doctor anyway. That is how the minute clinics work. Nurse practioners can also write certain scripts but not other ones.

Kim, I wish the elected official would try to get along. I understand why the school board is upset. However, it is important that they all work together.

Kim, I have a book that some way came to my home when I got a order of school books a couple of weeks ago. I guess I will send it to Cross Keys. I guess my wires crossed with my order. I guess they will take an extra book late.

Anonymous said...

I would prefer that our schools concentrate on educating our children rather than providing vaccines. We can't ask the a schools to do everything under the sun and then complain that our children are not being educated properly.

fedupindcss said...

As the child of a school nurse (in a state where they are still required, and are required to be RNs with a bachelor's), I have to argue that keeping the students healthy is part of the task of educating them. If they are not fed well, do not get enough exercise, and are not vaccinated properly, it creates an unhealthy atmosphere that impedes actual learning.

Children in large numbers are a public health disaster. If they aren't vaccinated, and the strain ends up becoming stronger than it is now, you could see a situation where schools could be shut down until the illness runs its course. My family has already been hit with this (Tamiflu will help alot, if you can afford it), but do you want your kids sitting in school next to some little Typhoid Mary (or Mark) who gives it to them?

Anonymous said...

Cere.. Maybe you should post the article about Arabia Mountian in this mornings AJC.

Maybe the the AJC needs to know why most of our textbooks went to Arabia Mountian. Maybe they should also know how Dr. Pringle has publicly stated how she is not a fan of the arts.

Can you see every school in DCSS stopping practice at 6:00 for all kids to go home and study?

Shayna Steinfeld said...

I have to agree with Fedup... if the kids all get H1N1 and it could have been avoided by cooperating with the Health Department by offering the vaccine at school... it'a a "no brainer" -- our priorities are very skewed.

On Ella's other subject... I was criticised for the support I received from County Commissioners during the School Board race because I dared to propose to cooperate and work with the County Commission -- I was seen as "crazy" by many of the "old timers" -- this just isn't the way things are done in DeKalb. I received a fascinitating similar comment from a higher up in Parks & Recreeation -- as in we are the only County School System that isn't working with -- cooperating with -- County Parks & Receration. One man running a chess league hit a stumbling block trying to get a school in which to have his school kids play chess matches-- chess (and brige), played internationally, really help with math and critical thinking skills. This is not how things are done in DCSS. There does not appear to me to be any cooperation. This has never made any sense to me. I campaigned on this. I had it tossed back in my face and I loss. I don't understand it and, to me, it is yet another reason to make the system smaller and more manageable -- break it into the 6 districts that are currently "supervised" by the area superintendants.

Ella Smith said...

Great points Shayna and Fed uP. I totally agree and just do not understand. However, maybe there is something I do not understand.

Parents would have a choice and could saw no so this is not a good enough excuse to me. Yes some parents do not want it. However it is the fastest way to meet the needs of our children in Dekalb County. Should the needs of the children not come first? Is this not the reason we elect our school board members? I thought it was. However, I could be wrong.

Cerebration said...

I was in Target today and they have an H1N1 vaccine program ready and waiting in their pharmacy. The sign said age limits may apply - which is probably what Dunwoody mom told us about - you need parental permission for under 13 year olds. (Just guessing.)

Dunwoody Mom said...

Cere, like you, I was in Target today and picked up a flyer. This particular Taget will not be giving vaccines to children under 13. Children between 13 and 18 need parental permission. I'm not sure if it's just location or a standard for all of the Target stores.

Dekalbparent said...

Was anybody else at the Emory/LaVista Corridor meeting?? I *SWEAR* I heard Dr Lewis say that they would be offering H1N1 shots in the schools and they were looking at offering them in the evenings at some of the schools for parents...

Was I completely dreaming?

Anonymous said...

Dekalbparent I heard the same thing - that DCSS was working with the Board of Health to vaccinate all school-age children. How quickly things change.

Anonymous said...

I am very concerned to heer that each alledged DCSS "school nurse" might not be an actual registered nurse. I will speak to my BOE member about that, and I hope others will too. Every single school nurse needs to be a certified, registered school nurse. The National Association of School Nurses is a great resource for parents, They
ll let you know what's happening with school health around the country.

Crawford Lewis, every single elementary and middle school in the county needs a school nurse. The high schools too, but especially the schools for our younger students.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Dekalbparent you heard correctly:

Also at the meeting, DeKalb County Schools Deputy Chief Superintendent Bob Moseley said the school system is working to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.

He said custodians were instructed to clean rooms thoroughly. The school system also was considering being a distributor of the H1N1 vaccine due out later this year, he said.

“We want to partner with the board of health to offer the vaccine,” he said last week. “We want staff and school age children to get the shot as soon as it is available.”

Cerebration said...

What a great article! Kyle Dominy always manages to get more than the assigned story - he has a long history in DeKalb and is a good reporter.

Interesting tidbit that jumped out at me - overall enrollment is up by about 2000. Dr. Lewis claimed these are students returning to DCSS from private schools - but doesn't mention what area of the county is most affected or if it's spread out. He does state that the growth has led to the need for 26 more teachers. So, of course, I checked the job postings and found many jobs available - these are the teaching jobs posted:

Arabia - Engineering Tech teacher
Henderson Mill ES - ESOL teacher
Towers - English teacher
Lots of various special ed teachers needed in several schools

If you qualify or know of a good teacher to recommend - visit the DCSS jobs website at

Cerebration said...

Also - Arabia and Stephenson HS's are looking for band teachers.

Kim Gokce said...

@Ella: "I guess my wires crossed with my order. I guess they will take an extra book late."

I have been taking a steady stream of backordered novels from Amazon over to the school including as recently as Thursday. Many of these were "one-off" titles for their enrichment library the English Dept wanted for their kids. So, by all means get it to the office in care of Tracy Vax or meet me for coffee and I'll drop it off for you. Thank you!!!!!!!!

Dunwoody Mom said...

I'm beginning to love the Neighbor newspapers- lots of good information.

The county Board of Health director said DeKalb residents should not have to go far to get the H1N1 flu vaccine this fall.

During a presentation to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners during its Sept. 22 meeting director Sandra Ford, M.D., said the county has requested about 800,000 doses of the vaccine, which should be available by mid-October.

She said the county had partnered with the DeKalb County School System and corporate pharmacies, such as CVS, Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart, to help distribute the drug.

Dekalbparent said...

@Anon 9/28 9:09 -

In most of the schools my kids attended, there were "clinic staffers", not nurses. They are paras who receive a training at central office, one or two annual trainings, and are in phone communication with a district-level nurse who is assigned to several schools if they feel the situation is beyond their scope.

When my older child was in elementary school, the clinic was staffed by an RN, but that was because three of the moms who were RNs volunteered to share the job. Other than that, it was go to the office and the secretary helped you.

There is no nurse or clinic at DHHS - there is no place for a sick kid to go except the plastic chairs in the Attendance office (and the Attendance secretaries don't really love sharing the air and phones with the sick kids - neither would I).

Do any of the high schools have clinics or staffers or nurses?

Anonymous said...

Dekalbparent, you've hit on something. It's crazy that every high school doesn't have a RN. A good RN can realy help improve the learning environment at any school.

Dekalbparent said...

Do any of the high schools even have a clinic - a place for a kid to go if he/she is sick or hurt? If they don't, what is the alternative, and what is the rationale for it?

Bigger kids get just as sick or hurt as younger ones. And now that we have flu concerns, it would seem even more imperative that there be a way to accommodate sick kids away from the school population until they can get home/to medical treatment.

Maybe there's nothing like that at DHHS because they figure they'll cart them over to Emory or Children's (which is not actually objectionable to me). But that doesn't work for kids who have a [genuine]headache, upset stomach or fever.

Cerebration said...

I'm not sure why this is getting done in other counties -- but here's a note from the Forsyth Co schools -

Forsyth County Public Health is providing FREE H1N1 VACCINES to ForsythCounty children (ages 3-18)

Wednesday, December 9 from 4-7 p.m. @ NorthForsythHigh School Cafeteria
Tuesday, December 15 from 4-7 p.m. @ ForsythCentralHigh School WEST Campus

For pre-vaccination information, directions and required paperwork, visit For questions, contact the Forsyth County Health Department at 770-781-6900

I also know of at least two private schools who have given students an H1N1 flu shot.

Has anyone heard of a plan for DCSS to address the issue of flu shots? Are we still "working closely with the DeKalb Board of Health and the CDC" but not actually getting the shots for our students? Why is our leadership so blase about this?

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure why this is getting done in other counties -- but here's a note from the Forsyth Co schools -"

Easy, because every other school system in the state except Clayton is significantly more professional and competent than DCSS.

Dekalbparent said...

Didn't DCSS say something like "it is not possible to offer the vaccinations in schools because" of some issue? I can't remember what it was, but I'm thinking it had to do with not being able to get enough health department personnel to give the shots.

Clearly, this has not been perceived to be a problem in Forsyth. Are any other counties giving shots at schools? I do know that Georgia Perimeter had a vaccination clinic open to all students and staff about a month ago. I don't know who administered the vaccine, but there are a lot of people at GPC.

Also the Health Department did that mass vaccination at DeVry three weeks ago, so there were enough personnel to handle a large volume of people at that time.