Fall is here and that means flu season is just around the corner.
This week the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas Department of Education and local school districts are again offering the seasonal flu vaccine to school-age children in grades K-12.
In Phillips County flu shots will be dispensed at Marvell Academy on Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. DeSoto Schools students will receive the flu vaccinations from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17.
Friday, Oct. 18 will be the day the flu shots will be available on the Helena-West Helena School campuses. The clinic will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Central campus. The shots will be administered at the Eliza Miller Elementary and Primary schools from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Flu shots will be available to KIPP students on Tuesday, Oct. 29. The time is set for 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the KIPP Delta Prep School and from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at KIPP Delta Collegiate High School and KIPP Delta Literacy Academy.
The flu vaccine was to be distributed at Barton Schools and Marvell-Elaine Schools on Oct. 9 and 10, respectively.
Children are not required to take the seasonal flu vaccine in order to attend school but ADH officials highly recommend it for everyone aged 6 months and older. Flu is a major cause of absenteeism from school and work.
Injections and the nasal mist will be available to children at the school clinics. Some children will not be able to take the vaccine in the mist form.
Children will not receive a flu shot without signed parental permission. Students will bring home a consent form for the parents' signature.
There is no charge for the flu vaccine. Those with insurance, ADH will request that the insurance company pay for the cost of administering the vaccine. If you do not have insurance, or your insurance will not pay there still will be no cost.
ADH officials remind parents that children under age 8 may need a second dose of the vaccine for full protection. Parents will need to check with the local health unit or health care provider to see if the second vaccination is needed and the vaccine available about four weeks after the first immunization.
“Vaccination against the flu is the best way to protect our children and other age groups from the flu, especially the elderly population, who are more vulnerable to the most severe effects of the flu,” stated Dr. Nate Smith, ADH director in a press release.
“Student health and wellness is very important,” commented Commissioner of Education Dr. Tom Kimbrell in a press release “As flu season approaches, our schools will partner with the Arkansas Department of Health in a team approach to protect students from the flu virus.”
Page 2 of 2 - Influenza is a virus that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Vaccines are a proven effective protection against the flu. People cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
“The flu is not a mild illness. It affects, sickens and kills more people each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist at ADH.
“It is especially important for pregnant women to get flu shots now, since infants can't get flu vaccine for the first six months of life,” added Haselow, also in a press release. “Newborns that are born during flu season will have some protection from the mother's flu shot this way.”
For more information go to www.healthy.arkansas.gov or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/