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Arkansas Schools, Health Department partner to give flu vaccines

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and local school districts statewide are again offering the seasonal flu vaccine to school children in grades K-12 beginning the week of October 8, according to a release.
LITTLE ROCK, AR —The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and local school districts statewide are again offering the seasonal flu vaccine to school children in grades K-12 beginning the week of October 8, according to a release. School clinics will be going on for the next several months.

The seasonal flu vaccine is not required for children to attend school, but it is highly recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommend everyone aged 6 months and older receive a seasonal flu vaccine every year. Seasonal flu causes children to miss school and their parents to miss work. If you have insurance, the ADH will ask your insurance company to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company does not pay, the shot will be no charge to you.

Both the nasal mist form and the injectable form of the flu vaccine will be available to children at school clinics this year. The injectable form of vaccine will be given to children who are unable to take the mist form. Children who are unable to take the mist form are those: less than two years of age; who have asthma; who have an underlying health condition or other conditions that prevent them from having the nasal form.

School children will be bringing home a consent form with the date that the vaccine will be given and a fact sheet about the seasonal flu vaccine. If parents want their children to receive the vaccine, they must sign and return the form. Children will not be able to receive the vaccine without signed parental permission.

“It has been shown that vaccinating our children is the best way to protect other age groups from the flu, especially the elderly population, which is more vulnerable to the most severe effects of the flu,” ADH director and State Health Officer Dr. Paul Halverson said. “We are extremely proud of our partnership with Arkansas’s schools and are excited about providing this service again.”

“Student health and wellness is very important,” Commissioner of Education Dr. Tom Kimbrell said. “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.”

Seasonal flu is a sickness that infects the nose, throat and lungs and is caused by the influenza virus. Vaccines are effective protection, and people cannot get the flu from the vaccine. “The flu vaccinetriggers your body’s immune system to fight off the real flu when it comes around this winter. If you’re young and healthy, the flu vaccine should be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness,” said Gary Wheeler, M.D., director of the Infectious Disease Branch at ADH.

“It is especially important for pregnant women to get vaccinated now, since infants can’t get flu vaccine for the first six months of life,” Wheeler said. “Newborns that come into the world during flu season will have some protection from the mother’s flu shot this way.”

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