Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

Take a Shot at the Flu

NEA Healthy Futures's picture

By Nora L. Howley, Manager of Programs, NEA Health Information Network

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that students missed over 38 million school days a year because of influenza (flu). 

While there are no figures available for adults that work in schools, CDC also reports that flu causes 100 million lost work days each year.

Help students—and yourself—by taking action.  CDC recommends some simple actions to fight the flu.  Many schools already do a great job of helping to prevent the spread of germs through routine hand washing and other basic hygiene strategies. 

CDC notes that the most important step most of us can to take in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine. This year flu vaccines have been available since September, but many people still have not gotten their shot.  And many parents may not be aware that the flu vaccine is for kids too.

Educators, school nurses, and others who work in schools can make a difference in the health of students and the school community by promoting flu vaccination as part of an overall approach to winter health.  Schools can:

  1. Provide information to parents, school employees, and others about the flu vaccine and where it is available in the community. 
  2. Host a school-located vaccine clinic.  A recent study from California confirmed that school-located vaccine programs can keep students healthy and decrease absences. Work with the local health department, hospital, or health care system.  This clinic can be open to students, staff, family, and community members.  Local health departments are important partners as they can help to manage the billing and payment for the vaccines.
  3. Create a school-wide vaccine advocacy campaign.  Since many people are not aware of the importance of vaccines or have questions about them, a broad-based campaign can help to raise awareness and answer questions.  For more information on vaccine advocacy see Advocacy for Vaccines.

Whatever your school decides to do, thank you.  Last year, which CDC described as a mild flu season, 26 children died.  Let’s work together to make that number zero this year.

Editor’s Note: This post is from our partners at the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN). Each month, we feature a new column on a topic related to school health. Through this effort, we hope to inform the public of important health issues that impact schools and offer educators and parents resources to address them.

Image by Ingemar Berling/Pressens Bild (Press photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons