Influenza is a highly-contagious and serious disease, particularly for children. Each year, more than 20,000 children are hospitalized and on average, 100 children die from the flu. For parents, these should be alarming statistics for a vaccine-preventable disease.
To address this public health issue, Families Fighting Flu (FFF) and Healthy Schools LLC are announcing a new partnership to raise awareness about the importance of annual flu vaccination and to increase the vaccination rates of children in Florida. This new education and action-oriented program, Teach Flu a Lesson, brings school-located flu vaccination clinics to more than 200,000 elementary through high school students, as well as valuable resources for schools to educate parents about the critical need for annual flu vaccination.
"Influenza is a serious infectious disease for children, though also preventable," said Tony Boselli, CEO of Healthy Schools. "By working with school districts to bring flu vaccinations to children in the school setting, we will be helping to not only keep them healthy, but also the overall community. Studies show that annual flu vaccination keeps students from missing valuable school days, which in turn, helps children, parents, schools and communities."
Through Teach Flu a Lesson, children attending participating schools will have the opportunity to receive the nasal-inhaled flu vaccine (FluMist® Quadrivalent) at no cost, whether or not they have medical insurance. Further, Healthy Schools provides the staff, vaccine administration and handles all related paperwork. Recent studies have shown that school-located vaccination clinics are valuable offerings to parents, children, school administrators and the community at large. Infection rates among children are typically higher than other populations, and they tend to spread the flu virus more easily. By vaccinating a larger number of children, flu transmission rates drop, vulnerable populations within the community are better protected and the risk for further complications, such as hospitalizations or even death, decreases. For parents and children, this is a convenient, quick and simple way to get vaccinated while also reducing potential absenteeism from both school and work.
"We're excited to partner with Healthy Schools to educate about the importance of annual flu vaccinations and to provide a convenient way for parents to protect their children from this dangerous disease," said Laura Scott, executive director of FFF. "Through our organization, we share the personal stories of our advocates who have experienced the devastating effects of the flu first-hand in the hopes that we can educate about the seriousness of this disease and encourage others to protect themselves and their families."
Each year, children miss more than 38 million days of school due to the flu – a vaccine-preventable disease. Safe and effective, the flu vaccine is the best preventative measure available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu. Recent data show, however, that flu vaccination rates in Florida have been below the national average. Last year, Healthy Schools vaccinated 11,000 children as part of the school-located vaccination clinics. This year, Healthy Schools and FFF hope to increase awareness and education about protecting children from the dangers of influenza and substantially surpass last season's vaccination rates. Healthy Schools expects to vaccinate 200,000 students throughout Florida during the 2014-2015 flu season. While progress to address this public health concern has been made, there is still much more work to be done, and Teach Flu a Lesson aims to address this unmet need by helping to protect children from this serious and potentially deadly disease.
Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May, with January and February typically being peak times. Families are encouraged to get an annual flu vaccination as soon as it becomes available in their area.
For more information about Teach Flu a Lesson, to download program materials, learn more about flu prevention, or to participate in this program, visit www.healthyschoolsllc.com.
Influenza, or "the flu," is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). Although often confused with the common cold, flu symptoms tend to develop quickly (usually 1 to 4 days after a person is exposed to the flu virus) and are usually more severe than the typical sneezing and congestion associated with a cold. Flu symptoms may include: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also common symptoms in children. During the 2013-2014 season, 107 children in the United States died due to the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu vaccination.
About Teach Flu a Lesson
To raise awareness about the possibly devastating effects of the flu and to increase flu vaccination rates in children, Healthy Schools and Families Fighting Flu are partnering to bring school-located vaccination clinics to elementary through high schools in Florida as well as much needed education for administrators, parents, children and health officials. By joining their expertise in this unique partnership model, the organizations are working together to reduce barriers to flu vaccination through the offering of this convenient way for children to receive a flu vaccination at no cost. This, in turn, benefits the community, as increased protection against this highly contagious and potentially deadly disease is critical.
For more information about Teach Flu a Lesson or to download program materials, please visit: www.healthyschoolsllc.com.
About Families Fighting Flu
Families Fighting Flu is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) volunteer-based advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the lives of children. Our organization includes families whose children have suffered serious medical complications or died from influenza, as well as other advocates and health care practitioners committed to flu prevention. In honor of our children, we work to increase awareness about the seriousness of the disease and to reduce the number of childhood hospitalizations and deaths caused by the flu each year by increasing vaccination rates.
For more information, please visit: www.familiesfightingflu.org.
About Healthy Schools LLC
Healthy Schools LLC is a healthcare access company founded in 2013 that promotes the health of children by administering nasal inhaled influenza vaccines at partnered schools. Healthy Schools creates public/private partnerships with the county health and education departments to provide this service at no cost to the schools. Healthy Schools provides all the required staffing and paperwork necessary for the program. In addition, Healthy Schools appropriately supplies vaccines from private supplies or from VFC supplies. Healthy Schools is a registered provider with the State of Florida and is an appropriately certified provider in Florida's Medicaid program. Healthy Schools reports all vaccines to the State of Florida SHOTS program. We are the only private company in Florida currently operating this type of program.