Flu shots offered to students

Children can get seasonal vaccine free at high schools

Staff writerSeptember 16, 2009 

— Wake County schoolchildren will have an extra chance at fighting the flu bug this fall when free vaccines are given at area high schools.

County commissioners accepted nearly $300,000 in federal stimulus money Sept. 8 to pay for the program. The shots will help fight the seasonal flu, said Regina Petteway, director of the Wake County Human Services Office of Community Affairs.

A separate vaccine is being developed to fight the H1N1 virus, and could be added to the program if it becomes available.

Children in kindergarten through 12th grade will be eligible for the vaccine, Petteway said. Students do not need to be enrolled in Wake County public schools to receive the shot.

Wake officials expect to administer the shots beginning in mid-October at 16 high schools. Officials are also working with private and charter schools to set up clinics.

Orange County received about $44,200 for a similar program, with Durham County is getting $18,500. Johnston County opted not to participate.

The flu shot should help reduce the number of sick students and teachers, as well as absences, said Kelly Creech, a registered nurse who is director of health services for the Wake County school system.

Students will need their parents' permission before receiving the shots, Petteway said, which will be administered after the school day.

The federal money will pay for the nurses and administrators needed to run the program, along with janitorial and security services. The vaccine will be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Specific times and places will be announced soon. As flu season approaches, Petteway said, it is important that people remember to wash their hands and to cover up when they sneeze or cough. Fighting the flu requires vigilance.

"If you're sick, stay home. If your children are sick, keep them home," she said.

matt.ehlers@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4889

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