Flu shots in store for area students

Published 7:47 am Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thanks to the Minnesota Department of Health, all students in Mower County will have access to flu shots this fall.

Mower County Public Health will be sponsoring free influenza shot clinics for every school in the county starting in mid-October and continuing through December. During this time, MCPH will be receiving more than 4,000 doses of flu vaccinations to administer to students.

“It’s a big undertaking,” Lisa Kocer, nursing supervisor at MCPH said. “it’s not very often you get free vaccine.”

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According to Kocer, the vaccines are a part of a large program by the state’s DOH to offer each student a vaccine this year. Every county was offered free flu vaccinations, and Kocer said she expects most counties to take the state up on its offer.

State health officials declared last year’s H1N1 pandemic to be over earlier this year, meaning the current flu season should be much milder. There is plenty of vaccine to go around, and this year health officials estimate most, if not all ,of the various flu strains can be dealt with by just one vaccine.

Austin Public Schools expects to start flu clinics for students in mid-November, according to Tricia Browning, the district’s supervisor of school health services. Information will be mailed to parents on Nov. 1, with clinics tentatively scheduled at various schools several weeks after that, allowing students and district staff to sign up for flu shots free of charge. Clinics will continue through December, based on when MCPH receives vaccine shipments from the state.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for families becaues they don’t have to take off work,” to schedule doctors’ appointments for their kids, Browning said.

Students and staff will be offered either a flu shot or the FluMist nasal spray, depending on whether they have allergic reactions to eggs, chronic respiratory illness such as asthma, or other complications. Students and families should check with their health care providers to see whether they should get one vaccination type over the other.

This isn’t the first time Austin Public Schools had vaccines available. The district was one of three statewide in 2006 in a pilot program to test the FluMist nasal spray.