The Hawai’i State Department of Health’s annual Stop Flu at School program begins Monday and will continue in 177 public schools statewide through December 7th.
The voluntary program administers free flu shots to students in kindergarten through eighth grade who are enrolled at participating schools.
“What stop flu at school does is offer a means for kids to get conveniently vaccinated,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “Parents are notified in advance. They sign the consent form and on the day, the kids just need to be in school and we can provide the vaccination. Parents can have the peace of mind knowing that that’s been done, and they don’t have to take time off work to make sure their kids get protected.”
Park says participating schools will include all public schools in Hawaii, Maui and Kauai counties. On Oahu, certain public schools that have the “Free and Reduced Lunch Price Program” will also participate. She says the reduction in the number of schools participating is due to lower federal funding received.
Approximately 30,000 students are expected to be vaccinated during the eight-week program.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone ages six months and older.
Last flu season, CDC reported 180 pediatric flu-related deaths in the United States.
Approximately 80 percent of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination.
The traditional flu season begins in early October and runs through late May.
The flu vaccines this season have been updated to provide protection against circulating flu viruses expected to be most common, based on data from the past season.
To learn more about the Stop the Flu at School program, click here.