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Students receive H1N1 vaccinations this week

Alycia Ronnebaum, right, reacts as she receives the H1N1 vaccine from Amy Morris, public health nurse with St. Joseph's Area Health Services. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

H1N1 vaccinations were administered to about 400 Park Rapids area students Tuesday.

Amy Morris, public health nurse with St. Joseph's Area Health Services, said between 350 and 400 shots were given to Century School students and about 80 doses were given to high school students.

"It's been busy," she said.

Morris said students 9 and younger will require a second dose of the vaccination. Parents are encouraged to call the flu hotline for information about future flu shot clinics.

H1N1 vaccinations will be given to students in Laporte on Dec. 16 and Nevis on Dec. 17.

Across the state, cases of H1N1 have decreased.

St. Joseph's Area Health Services lifted its restrictions limiting patient visits with the significant decrease in influenza activity locally. At the same time, the hospital is asking anyone who is sick to refrain from visiting.

It appears that the second wave of H1N1 and influenza-like outbreaks peaked in Hubbard County during the fourth week of October, according to a news release. St. Joseph's Emergency and Lab Departments, Innovis Health and area clinics were busy with symptomatic patients.

Two adults with confirmed H1N1 were admitted to St. Joseph's and did recover without incident.

"The whole influenza pandemic experience felt by the nation this past fall turned out to be less severe than expected," said Myra Haldorson, RN, St. Joseph's Infection Prevention/Employee Health Coordinator.

"Because so many children and younger adults got the disease and because the death rate was higher in that particular sector, it seemed more severe," she adds, "but in reality, the death rate was not any higher than would be found during an annual seasonal outbreak."

The fact that the second wave is appearing to diminish is not a reason for people to drop their guard.

"Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the population got the disease. The remainder are not immune to H1N1 unless they have been vaccinated," Haldorson said, although she backed that claim with the knowledge that the lack of testing for every case makes it hard to pinpoint concrete numbers.

"The fact remains that people still need to get vaccinated. It's the best way to stop transmission of the disease," she said.