Since the beginning of November, nurses and volunteers from the Florida Department of Health in Flagler have been busy visiting schools in Flagler County and administering flu vaccine to students and staff.
This year, the health department vaccinated 1,391 students and 114 faculty members, a 13 percent increase over 1,331 vaccinated in the 2017-18 school year, when 1,242 students and 89 employees were vaccinated.
“We were able to vaccinate 174 more individuals this year through our in-school flu clinics,” said Robert Snyder, who heads the Flafgler Health Department. “That’s progress — almost 150 more parents chose to protect their students and 25 more staff/faculty took advantage of this free and convenient service. More importantly, increasing the number of people vaccinated helps reduce vulnerability and makes our schools healthier places to learn and work.”
Through its comprehensive School Health Services Program, the health department works in tandem with the district supervising school nurses, conducting annual screenings, reviewing student immunization records, and ensuring statutory requirements are met. The health department offers all mandatory childhood immunizations at its Bunnell headquarters for free, and partners with the district to bring some enhanced services to students during the school day with parental consent. Doing so promotes health equity, gives children increased access to care, improves vaccination rates and reduces the amount of time students miss school for doctor appointments.
The department has been placing renewed emphasis on vaccines and battling factually inaccurate beliefs that vaccines are dangerous to children’s health or that they cause autism. Such beliefs have been repeatedly discredited but continue to gain currency on social media. Flagler has one of the state’s highest proportions of un-vaccinated children in Florida. The department has also been seeking to expand its vaccination program in district schools but has been facing resistance from some school board members so far.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a flu vaccine every year as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza and its potentially serious complications. The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older, including pregnant women.
Flu vaccines may not entirely prevent illness but can reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of complications. It takes approximately two weeks after vaccination for a body to develop protection against the flu, and proper and frequent handwashing can help flu from spreading. Students who missed the in-school clinics can still get free flu shots at the health department weekdays between 8AM and 4:30PM.
For more information, please call 386-313-7067.