BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Volusia County public school students are gearing up to fight influenza with assistance from former Jacksonville Jaguars player Tony Boselli.
The partnership between the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County, Volusia County Public Schools and Healthy Schools, LLC is called “Teach Flu a Lesson” and is designed to immunize all students who provide signed consent forms. FluMist is a vaccine that is sprayed into the nose to help protect against influenza.
“Teach Flu a Lesson is an initiative designed to improve the health of students,” said Boselli, a former offensive tackle for the Jaguars. “We are delighted to provide flu vaccines to students in Volusia County.
Free to students
Flu immunizations will be administered by Healthy School’s nurses free of charge to students in every Volusia County public school with parental consent Sept. 16-19.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our students to get their flu vaccines while at school,” said Dr. Margaret Smith, superintendent of Volusia County Schools. “Many students miss instructional time because of cold and flu. This program will protect our students from influenza, helping to keep them healthy and in school.”
It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all persons 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine every year.
Effective way to help
During the 2011-12 flu season, 26 deaths in children were reported to CDC. Each year in the U.S., an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized for flu-related complications.
Children are more likely to get the flu or have flu-related complications because their Immune systems are still developing and schools tend to serve as incubators of influenza in each community.
“Bringing flu vaccines into schools has proven to be an effective way to increase the vaccination rates for children in Florida,” said Dr. Bonnie J. Sorensen, director of the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County.
According to the CDC, children with chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes have an extremely high risk of developing serious flu-related complications.