Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
Parents of elementary school children in New York City are receiving swine flu vaccine consent forms this week. The citywide voluntary - and free - vaccine program is starting next Wednesday at local elementary schools.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley is encouraging all parents to quickly vaccinate their children as the virus is expected to become more prevalent in the coming months. "We're not seeing evidence of the spread of the H1N1 right now, but we fully expect it to arrive in New York City some time," Farley said at a press conference today.
He said the city aims to vaccinate more than 1 million children by December.
Schools will offer the vaccination on a rolling basis over the next three weeks, starting with smaller schools next week. For more information and to download the consent forms, you can go here. The forms are in 10 languages.
Vaccinations will begin on October 28 at schools with enrollments of less than 400. Another round will begin on November 4 with enrollments of less than 600, with a third round on November 9 for other schools. Weekend vaccinations for middle and high school students will be held in each borough throughout November and December.
Parents will be able to choose whether their children receive nasal spray or injections. The city says it takes 10 days to develop immunity to the H1N1 virus. And they want to remind parents that the vaccine is produced the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine, and that they have been rigorously tested. Also, the seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against the H1N1 virus.