Girl's death raises urgency of H1N1 vaccine - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Girl's death raises urgency of H1N1 vaccine

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A fifth Georgia child has died as a result of the H1N1 flu.

Ten year old Summer Rockefeller of Augusta had no underlying health condition. That's why southwest Georgia health officials are urging parents to immunize their kids. Not many parents took advantage of the nasal vaccine that's been available for the last week in southwest Georgia.

At the Dougherty County Health Department they put in a new refrigerator to hold all of the flu vaccine they're preparing to receive. They hope more parents will do the research, find out the nasal vaccine is safe and bring their children in for the vaccine.

The death of 10 year old Summer Rockefeller, a healthy Augusta fifth grader, is raising concern. It was enough for Suzanne Sims to bring her five children in for the H1-N1 nasal vaccine.

"The swine flu is killing kids, its killing people," said Suzanne Sims, a concerned parent.

Three of the girls and Suzanne got the nasal vaccine, two younger kids only qualified for a seasonal flu shot. It didn't bother 11 year old Michaela Wright.

"It felt like a little squirt going up your nose and then you have to suck in," said Michaela Wright, Sims 11 year old daughter.

"I think they're safer getting the vaccine than not," said Sims.

Health officials worry not enough parents think that way, especially judging the response in the last week, but say the proof is in the number of children who have been severely sickened by the H1N1 virus.

"One in four hospitalized patients actually required ICU care and so we know that seven percent of those patients die," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest Georgia Health District Director.

In southwest Georgia there's the potential for many kids to get sick in a second wave of the illness that may not be as mild as the first.

"We have very high poverty rates and we have very large numbers of our population that have chronic diseases and so when you put all of that together it's a recipe for some of the worse outcomes," said Grant.

Sims children however have a better chance of not getting as sick if they get the flu simply by taking preventative measures.

Health officials expect they'll get the H1N1 shot in the next week and a half. They hope more people will feel comfortable getting the shot versus the nasal vaccine.

In Georgia, more than 500 people have been hospitalized as a result of H1N1 and 27 people have died.


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