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School flu clinics see large student turnout

Published 11:12pm Friday, September 28, 2012

More than 1,200 students participated in the first “Teach Flu a Lesson” school-based vaccination clinics Sept. 13 and 14 at Chilton County public schools.

The clinics were voluntary, free to all students and a collaborative effort among state senators, local school system employees and school nurses.

“We had good participation,” Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden said. “I don’t see a downside to it. We hope it will keep our students healthier.”

Hayden said he hopes the clinics will be offered yearly, pending the availability of the vaccines.

Lead Nurse Chrysta Russell of Chilton County Schools worked with Hayden and all local principals and school nurses to orchestrate this year’s clinic at each school.

The clinics stemmed from Sen. Gerald Dial’s (R–Lineville) efforts to reduce school absenteeism and improve graduation rates in public schools.

A joint resolution between Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama State Department of Education, Senate Bill SJR-11 was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley April 10 and urges ADPH and ALSDE to encourage all schools to participate in a school-based Influenza Vaccination Program.

“It was a legislative initiative giving opportunities for flu vaccinations in schools,” Sen. Cam Ward (R–Alabaster) said. “No one has to take the vaccine, but those who want to have the opportunity to reduce the number of flu-related absences during the school year.”

Ward said he plans to work to keep the voluntary flu vaccine clinics a yearly event in Chilton County public schools.

“I think it’s a very valuable program, especially for families who would like the convenience of receiving that vaccination for their child,” Ward said. “We hope more and more school systems will take advantage of this across the state in the future.” The clinic was offered through the joint efforts of community-based programs, including Family Health Clinic of Union Springs Inc., HNH Immunizations Inc. and Auburn University School of Nursing.

Parents who consented to their children receiving the vaccination were given a choice between the shot and the FluMist nasal spray vaccination.

Students with health insurance were covered with no co-payments or deductibles.

Students with Medicaid or no insurance coverage were also provided the vaccination at no cost.

Parental consent forms must be returned completed in full in order for the child to participate.

As a reminder for parents of students 8 years old or younger, Russell said that if this was a child’s first flu vaccine, a follow-up booster dose is recommended and will be given (28–plus days from the first dose) on or around Oct. 19.

Parents who do not want their child to receive the recommended follow-up dose should call 205-609-0268.

For more information on flu vaccination or for the most current VIS statements, visit www.cdc.gov.

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