School system wants flu-free program again

The recent Flu-Free Schools pilot program conducted in several Fayette County elementary schools was so successful that school system staff want to repeat and expand it next year if possible.
The program was conducted at seven elementary schools in October to provide the FluMist vaccine for seasonal flu to students and employees at those schools, said Public Information Officer Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.
A total of 552 students, or approximately 13.5 percent of the total student population at the participating schools, received the flu vaccine, she said. Of these same schools, 113 staff members received the vaccine, approximately 24.4 percent of the total employee population, Berry-Dreisbach added.
In all, nearly 40 percent of all eligible persons at the seven elementary schools were vaccinated, Berry-Dreisbach said.
Fayette School System Lead Nurse Debbie King said the Flu-Free Schools Program was a pilot with state public health.
“We would like to extend the program to all the elementary schools. However, it depends on the ability of our health department to support such an effort,” King said. “Many health department hours were dedicated to this program this year. The school system and the health department will be meeting with the District 4 health department and the Flu-Free Schools Program director to discuss the program next year based on surveys from parents, the school principals, school nurses and the health department staff.”
Parents had to give consent for their children to receive the vaccination. The program was not open to the general public or to students and staff at other schools. Injectable vaccines were available for students and adults who could not take FluMist due to health issues or other concerns.
The elementary schools participating in the program included Huddleston, North Fayette, Peachtree City, Robert J. Burch, Sara Harp Minter, Peeples and Spring Hill. The schools were selected based on their geographic location and their past experience setting up flu clinics, Berry-Dreisbach said.
District 4 Public Health sponsored the Flu-Free Schools program. The purpose of the program was to keep students and teachers healthy and in school by reducing the number of days missed from school and work, Berry-Dreisbach said.

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