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Public schools won't offer flu vaccinations this year

Saturday, August 20, 2011 | 3:50 p.m. CDT; updated 4:45 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 20, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia Public Schools students will not be vaccinated for the flu at school this year, a change from the past two years when immunizations were funded by two one-time federal grants.

Geni Alexander, spokeswoman for Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, said the department would like to do the vaccinations in schools.

“It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to do that this year,” she said.

Lori Osborne, Columbia Public Schools coordinator of health services, said if the health department was not going to do vaccinations in schools, parents would need to get them from their physicians or at the health department.

The department will offer flu vaccinations at its clinic at 1005 W. Worley St. starting this fall, Alexander said. Information about the immunizations will be highly publicized, she said.

In 2010, the health department vaccinated 4,703 elementary school children at Columbia public schools, Alexander said. There were 8,655 children enrolled in the district’s elementary schools in 2010, according to the district’s website. Many children were vaccinated by private physicians, Osborne said.

In 2009, responding to the H1N1 pandemic, the health department offered flu vaccinations to all public school children in Columbia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the pandemic over in June 2010.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus plan, paid the $14,000 cost of last year’s school-based vaccinations, Alexander said. The CDC paid for the health department’s vaccinations in 2009.

The CDC recommends everyone older than six months be vaccinated for the flu yearly.

In 2009, there were two flu vaccinations: a seasonal vaccination and a separate immunization against the H1N1 virus. In 2010, the medicines were combined into one vaccine, which covered an H1N1-like virus and two other strains of the flu, according to the CDC website.

This year’s vaccine protects against the same three strains, including the H1N1-like virus, according to the website.

The pandemic is over, but “the H1N1 strain of the virus is still circulating,” Jeff Dimond, a CDC spokesman in Atlanta, said.

More information about the federal government’s recommendations for 2011-2012 flu season is available at flu.gov.


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