November 19, 2009


Flu shots begin for school children

Staff Reporter

HOMER — Valerie Holcomb greeted children Wednesday as they walked down the hall to Homer Elementary School’s Room 212.
“Here he comes,” Holcomb, a nurse and teacher aide, said to one kindergartner.
She escorted him into the room and putting her arm around him as a Cortland County Health Department nurse swabbed his upper arm and gave him a shot of the H1N1 flu vaccination.
“Brave boy,” Holcomb said as he walked out, rubbing his arm.
Wednesday was the first day for students in Cortland County school districts to be vaccinated by shot for free, at school, as the county Health Department helped families protect themselves against the H1N1 pandemic.
Ruth King, the school’s principal, said the number of students getting the shot had dropped since some had gotten it already from their family doctor.
She said 56 had signed up at Homer Elementary, but that number had dropped to 40 by the time the nurses set up at 1:30 p.m.
The county Health Department sent 863 consent packets home with children, but is not sure how many parents will actually sign the consent forms for the clinics.
The department will add more clinics as it receives more vaccine dosages, said Pam Griffith, supervising public health nurse. She said there is enough vaccine to handle the clinics set up so far.
The room had two county Health Department nurses and two volunteer nurses, so the clinic gave shots to two or three children at a time.
Holcomb said she worked as a nurse for New York state for 17 years before quitting to be at home with her children, who are now students at Homer Junior High. She knew many of the children, so she served as greeter.
She sometimes distracted them by singing “The Alphabet Song.”
One second-grade boy entered as she said, “Want to get your shot with me?”
“Yes, but I’m not going to sit on your lap,” he said. The girl before him had done that.
As Holcomb sang the song, he said, “Why are we singing this?”
Hartnett Elementary School in Truxton also offered a flu clinic Wednesday. The schools having clinics today were Randall and Virgil schools in the Cortland city district, and St. Mary’s in Cortland.
Marathon and Cincinnatus schools are scheduling their own clinics, Griffith said.
The rest of the schedule:
Monday: Homer Intermediate, 9 to 11 a.m.; Parker Elementary, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.; Smith Elementary, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday: McGraw Elementary, 2-3 p.m.; Barry Elementary, 10:30 a.m.-noon.
Nov. 30: Cortland Junior-Senior High School, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.; Homer Junior High, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Parents should check the county Health Department’s Web site for additional details. The address is


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