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Flu Vaccine Pilot Program Comes To Duval, Clay Elementary Schools

Cyd Hoskinson

A pilot program to vaccinate students against the flu kicked-off Monday at R.L. Brown and 10 other elementary schools in Duval County. 

The “Teach Flu A Lesson” immunization campaign was organized by Jacksonville-based Healthy Schools LLC in cooperation with the school district and the public health community.  

Students at the 11 other elementary schools in Health Zone 1 will be vaccinated today.

Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT
Just because it will protect him from the flu, that doesn't make the Flu-Mist vaccine any easier to take.

Students who don’t come to school because they’re sick, says Duval County School Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, also aren’t learning.

“By partnering with healthy schools and the department of health, we’re filling the gaps that exist that prevent our children from learning at a higher level, and that’s related to health,” Vitti said.

Kelli Wells, Director of the Duval County Health Department, says the research supports this kind of vaccination effort.

 “We actually get better immunization rates if you do it in a school-based setting as opposed to requiring parents to take off work and come into the doctor’s office to receive the vaccine,” she said.

Mobeen Rathore, MD, President of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that’s important, not just for the kids but for everyone around them.

“When you immunize children, when you can get 70-80 percent children immunized, you protect the whole community,” Mobeen said.

Unfortunately, only about a tenth of R.L. Brown’s 500 students were immunized.

School officials say they’re disappointed by the low turnout, and that next year they plan to do a better job getting the word out and explaining to families how important it is to protect their children against the flu.  
Healthy Schools heads to Clay County next where they will vaccinate students in all 41 of the district’s schools.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.