Buncombe County Health Center employees began distributing free seasonal flu vaccinations to area elementary schools today in an effort paid for by federal stimulus funds. The vaccinations will continue throughout the month.
Students at Candler Elementary received the flu vaccinations today. Throughout October, students from kindergarten through the 5th grade at Asheville City, Buncombe County and charter schools will receive the vaccinations at no charge if their parents have signed a permission notice. So far, 50 percent of county school parents and 40 percent of city parents have given permission, according to an official announcement provided by the health center.
The vaccination can be delivered either by injection or nasal spray, at the parent’s choice. The health center hopes to vaccinate one to two schools a day.
The full announcement is below.
—David Forbes, staff writer
Seasonal Flu Vaccines Begin in Schools
Thursday, October 1st the Buncombe County Health Center will begin giving seasonal flu vaccine to Asheville City, Buncombe County, and area charter school students. The flu vaccines are being offered at no cost to elementary children in kindergarten through 5th grades, made possible by stimulus dollars that were sent to local health departments specifically for this purpose. Permission forms are still available for any parents who have not returned theirs and would like for their child to be vaccinated. Parents may choose between Flu Mist nasal spray or a shot in the arm. Having children vaccinated for seasonal flu is expected to cut down on the number of flu illnesses this school year.
Vaccines will be given to students in one or two schools per day throughout the month of October, beginning at Candler Elementary on Thursday. As of today about 50% of Buncombe County parents and 40% of Asheville City parents have given permission to have their child vaccinated.
“We targeted young children in elementary school because they tend to spread more germs and are not as good at covering their cough and washing their hands,” said Nelle Gregory, School Health Supervisor. “We know that when up to 30% of students are vaccinated against the flu we tend to see a reduction of absenteeism in the schools. In addition to protecting children from the flu, vaccinating children also tends to reduce the spread of flu within the community.” Children are being reminded to use good flu prevention practices like covering their cough with their sleeve and washing their hands often with soap and water to reduce germs.
Parents who have signed a consent form to have their child vaccinated at school and have since taken their child to get the vaccine should contact their school to pull the consent.
For information about seasonal flu vaccines in schools, parent permission forms and a schedule of school vaccine dates, you may go to www.buncombecounty.org. Parent permission forms are also available at the participating schools.