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Public and Private School Flu Initiative

September 15, 2018

Dear Parent or Guardian,

In a typical year, 30% of children get sick from the flu virus. In some cases, children develop pneumonia and need to be hospitalized. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all children 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year. To help families across Calvert County, your child’s elementary school is partnering with the health department to provide vaccination FREE OF CHARGE. Nurses will administer the vaccine at school. You only need to sign the consent form.

The vaccine will only be available by injection. As you may be aware, the nasal spray vaccine (FluMist) was taken off the market two years ago due to lack of effectiveness. The spray has been reformulated and preliminary results have shown improvement. However, there is disagreement among expert organizations whether enough testing has been done to recommend use of the spray this year. Since we know that the injectable version of the vaccine provides good protection, the Calvert Health Department is only administering this form during the 2018 flu season. If studies continue to look good, we will offer the spray next school year.

Parents should be aware that children with asthma and diabetes are most at risk for serious complications from the flu, and all efforts should be made to get your child vaccinated.

Some parents do not have their children vaccinated due to concerns about side effects from the vaccine. This has been extensively studied. Serious side effects such as allergic reaction or a neurologic condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome are extremely rare. In fact, Guillain-Barre is more likely to occur as a consequence of getting the flu than as a result of a side effect from vaccination. If every child in the Calvert school system is vaccinated every year, we would see one serious reaction every 46 years. During this time period, we will prevent over 100,000 children from getting the flu. The more common side effects from the vaccine such as soreness at the site where the shot was given, headache, or low-grade fever are typically mild and usually last 1-2 days. Compared to a child with the flu who develops 103-degree fever, body aches, vomiting, and possible trips to the pediatrician or emergency room, parents can appreciate the value of preventing serious illness with a safe and well tested vaccination.

Across the U.S., approximately 115,000 people are hospitalized each year as a result of severe illness from the flu. Influenza is the 8th leading cause of death in the country. The good news is that there is something we can all do to keep our families and our community safer. Children and adults who receive the INFLUENZA VACCINE each year are on average 70% less likely to get sick and less likely to spread illness to older relatives and neighbors.

All children should bring their completed consents to their school as soon as possible. Please take advantage of this opportunity to keep your child safer and healthier.

Larry Polsky, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief of Public Health
Calvert County Health Department

School Flu Clinic Schedule

Flu Vaccination Schedule and other Information

 

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