Le Bonheur employees receive H1N1 vaccines - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Le Bonheur employees receive H1N1 vaccines, hospital records third death

By Ben Watson and Jamel Major - Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Workers at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center were among the first in the nation to receive the H1N1 vaccine Monday, the same day hospital officials announced a third patient's death from the flu.

Officials said the child, a 12-year-old boy, died last Thursday, and was the third H1N1 death at Le Bonheur.Hospital officials added that the boy had underlying health conditions, but would not say what those issues were.

Monday, Action News 5 learned the child may have attended Wooddale Middle.  Student Marcus Grantham said people at the school were doing all they could to prevent spreading the flu.

"Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you sneeze, and stuff like that," he said.

Grantham said his teachers and friends were shocked by the student's death.

"He was a good student," Grantham said. "He made A's and B's. It was just astonishing to the teachers that he died."

News of the child's death spread as officials administered nasal mist doses of the H1N1 vaccine to doctors, nurses, emergency medical workers and other health care professionals who work directly with patients. CDC doctors brought enough vaccine to LeBonheur to vaccinate 100 workers on the front lines of a growing influenza crisis.

"It seemed logical to target the delivery of this small amount of vaccine to the place where we're seeing lots of people who had been affected," said Tennessee Commissioner of Health Susan Cooper.

The medicine workers received is a weakened form of the virus.

"It's not able to make you sick with influenza, but it's able to fool your immune system into reacting to it, so that you build up protection against the virus," Dr. Anne Schuchat said.

Doctors say the H1N1 vaccine is recommended for people ages 2 to 49 who are in relatively good health and have no underlying diseases.

"I feel good about it," said Le Bonheur nurse Holly Smith, who received the vaccine. "I have two small girls, and I also work at Le Bonheur. I've been here for about five years, and I take care of babies in infant care. As we know, they don't have a big immune system, so I feel it's real important that we get this - heath care workers - to protect our families and the patients that we take care of."

Initial shipments of the nasal mist vaccine are so small that in most cases they're being reserved for health workers, with the hope those workers will remain healthy and can care for and vaccinate others.

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