LEWISTON — This week, Maine students began to receive H1N1 flu vaccines. The first
Lewiston school was Montello Elementary, where students got vaccines Wednesday.
Robert Dostie, 8, waited in the gym for a nasal spray.
As he sat down the nurse smiled and said, "No shot today. I bet you're disappointed." Robert grinned. The nurse told him he was going to get a little squirt in his nose.
Robert looked pleasantly surprised. "That smells good," he said. "It smells like oranges."
Children given the vaccine were monitored for 15 minutes for negative effects. For Robert, it was no big deal. "It felt like water going up your nose," he said. "It was very easy."
Dr. Dora Anne Mills, head of the Maine Center for Disease Control, said larger schools in Maine's more populated areas were the first to get vaccines.
So far, 60 percent of students have gotten the vaccine, more than the projected 40 percent. "That is very good news," Mills said.
"The consent forms are coming back at a higher rate than people thought."
In school clinics there are no long lines or waits. The atmosphere is friendly and familiar, Mills said. "Kids are doing well. They're with people they know. They're having a fun time playing or having snacks after."
During Montello's clinic, Lewiston school nurse Cathy Liguori wore a fun, purple wig and clothing. Other staff wore playful Halloween accessories.
Some 300 Montello students were vaccinated, about 50 percent of the school's population, Liguori said. "At Geiger tomorrow, 340 will be vaccinated, a little more than 50 percent. I'd like to see more, but it takes a while for parents to feel comfortable. This is a new vaccine."
Geiger Elementary will offer the vaccine during school on Thursday; McMahon Elementary will offer it on Friday, and the remaining Lewiston schools, next week. Auburn will hold H1N1clinics beginning early next week.
"We hope that most Maine schools will have the vaccine in the next few weeks," Mills said.