Knox County students will soon have the opportunity to receive the FluMist vaccine at school, but only if their parents approve.
The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) will kick off this year's in-school influenza vaccination program on September 16. Clinics will be held elementary and middle schools as well as some Head Starts, private schools and child care centers.
"Children are known to be the major transmitter of the flu to other persons, including those who could be at high risk for complications, like the elderly and infants," said KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. "This collaborative effort creates a healthier community and helps keep our children in school and schools open."
FluMist is an intra-nasal influenza vaccine that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children as young as 2. Children at the vaccination clinics who are under 2 years of age will receive a flu shot.
No child will be vaccinated without a completed, signed and returned consent form. Parents or guardians may complete the form online at zippslip.com/knox. Paper consent forms are available at the schools or online at knoxcounty.org/health. A schedule of the vaccination clinics is also available online at knoxcounty.org/health.
It is costly to vaccinate all Knox County children, so families with insurance are asked to fill out the insurance information on the consent form so the insurance company can be billed. Parents will not be charged a co-pay or get a bill.
The community can also contribute to the program through the KCHD's partnership with the Metropolitan Drug Commission. You can donate on the MDC website, metrodrug.org, or on the electronic consent form. All donations are tax deductible.
Children under 9 who have not previously received the flu vaccine will need two doses separated by at least one month. Phase two of the in-school flu vaccination clinics will be conducted December 3 - 18. If a child misses his or her school's clinic date, parents may take the child to any health department location for a flu vaccine.
On average over the past eight years, KCHD has vaccinated approximately 45 percent of school-aged children or 25,000 kids per year. KCHD's FluMist program, which began in 2004, is a national model for community flu prevention. Evidence supports vaccinating children as a way to protect the entire community from influenza.