Cash for Vaccine Program

Posted August 25, 2009 11:00 AM

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Preschool teacher Mary Randolph says the swine flu panic is overblown.

By Travis Andersen, Town Correspondent

With the cash for clunkers program now kaput, Uncle Sam is offering a smaller cash incentive in Somerville and nine other US cities.

The federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) is hosting a swine flu forum on Saturday at the Center for Arts at the Armory on Highland Avenue. The event is open to 100 residents, and those who preregister will receive a $50 stipend.

The forum runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and includes a catered lunch. Residents will join focus groups throughout the day, discussing a possible swine flu vaccination program nationwide and other strategies for containing the pandemic.

The CDC plans to hold 10 sessions around the country before Labor Day. Translation is available upon request for American Sign Language, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish, according to the city’s website.

“We look forward to having the chance to listen to our constituents on this important issue,” said Paulette Renault-Caragianes, director of the city Health Department, in a statement posted online.

At least three constituents can’t make it. Teele Square resident Mary Randolph, who teaches preschool in West Roxbury, sees little need for a public meeting.

“I didn’t see much pan out after the [original] panic,” said Randolph, who was student teaching in Cambridge when swine flu first surfaced. She added that a few children fell ill at the time but recovered quickly. Randolph also opposes a national vaccination program.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” she said.

Donna Hardy, an operations manager at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, does think it’s necessary – she just wouldn’t get the shot herself.

“I’d support it, but [as for] myself, I won’t even get a flu shot,” Hardy said, adding that she’ll be in Maine on Saturday. “I just don’t want to deal with it.”

Meanwhile resident Jim Herbert supports a national vaccination program, because a similar effort worked in the fight against polio in the mid-1950s. But don’t expect to see him at Saturday’s forum.

“I just don’t have time,” he said.

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