The H1N1 virus is spreading more and more each day, and the seasonal flu may show up at any moment; yet we’re all facing the dilemma of not knowing where and how to go to get vaccinated since there is currently a shortage of both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines. Although the H1N1 virus has caused mostly mild symptoms, it can be very dangerous to people with preexisting conditions such as asthma, and many children have asthma. According to the CDC, in 2007, 5.6 million school-aged children and youth (5-17 years old) were reported to have this condition. In addition, outbreaks within student populations sometimes force schools to close, which decreases learning time and can be very costly. Therefore, it is imperative that schools take steps to curb the spread of flu.
Certain cities have been receiving shipments of the vaccines and holding one-day clinics, but the lines for those clinics are enormous and only a very small percentage of the population ends up being vaccinated. In addition, doctors’ offices are getting very limited supplies and yet we hear on the news that some big named banks and brokerage firms received shipments to vaccinate their entire staff go figure. BoardBuzz does not want to be bitter, but rather hopeful.
BoardBuzz has learned of one way to increase vaccinations within schools: by partnering with PTAs. As part of their “Let’s Fight Flu Together!” initiative, the National PTA is working with Novartis Vaccines, Flu Busters, and local health departments to provide on-site administration and vaccines at schools. According to the PTA, the schools’ involvement and time in hosting the clinic is very limited.
This initiative began last year in an effort to support CDC’s recommendations to have all children aged 6 months to 19 years receive the seasonal flu vaccine. Over 400 schools participated in the first year and, to date, over 1,000 schools have registered for a clinic. Schools can host a clinic anytime between now and January.
Let’s all team up to combat these viruses and make our children healthy and ready to learn! To obtain more information about PTA’s initiative, visit www.pta.org/flushotclinics. And to learn more about how to better prepare for and manage a flu pandemic within schools, don’t forget to check out NSBA’s H1N1 Planning for Schools webpage.