DOH Begins ‘Stop Flu at School’ Program
The Hawai‘i State Department of Health’s (DOH) annual Stop Flu at School program began last week and will continue in 185 public schools statewide through Nov. 27, 2019.
The voluntary program administers free flu shots to students in kindergarten through eighth grade who are enrolled at participating schools. Approximately 31,500 students are expected to be vaccinated through the program this year, according to a DOH press release.
“We are glad schools and parents continue to appreciate and find value in this program,” said Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson. “The number of students signed up to receive their flu shots through the Stop Flu at School program has been increasing in recent years.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone ages six months and older. Since 2010, CDC estimates that between 130 and 1,200 children younger than 18 years have died from flu each year.
“Vaccination is our best defense against the flu. It can help prevent illness, but more importantly, it decreases the risk of severe illness, which can result in hospitalizations and death,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “While there were no influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported in Hawai‘i during the 2018-2019 season, children, even healthy children, are hospitalized or die from the flu every year in the US.”
Since flu can cause severe illness in people of all ages, DOH encourages everyone to talk to their healthcare provider about the vaccine and consider getting vaccinated, the release said. For those unable to be vaccinated through the Stop Flu at School program, flu vaccine is available through healthcare provider offices and clinics as well as pharmacies, for those older than age 11 years.
For a list of vaccinating pharmacies statewide, visit the DOH Vaccine Locator online. Some locations require a prescription from the patient’s medical provider. Contact the pharmacy or clinic to confirm vaccine availability and restrictions that may apply.
DOH also recommends other flu prevention strategies, including staying home and away from other people in the house when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands frequently. For more information about the flu, visit the DOH website.
To learn more about the Stop Flu at School program, go online or call the Aloha United Way’s information and referral line at 2-1-1.