Before National Immunization Awareness Month ends and students prepare to head back to school, take advantage of this educational opportunity to make sure children in your community are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Nurses Who Vaccinate have once again worked together Voices for Vaccines and Families Fighting Flu to help schools to get a head start on preventing influenza.
During the 2013-2014 school year, 100 children died from influenza in the United States. Unimmunized children have nearly a four times greater risk of being admitted to the ICU than children who are fully immunized against influenza. Forty-five percent of the influenza illness ICU admissions were in otherwise healthy children. About 1 in 10 children admitted to the ICU with flu complications died.
Rather than sit back and hope students get immunized against influenza, schools can get proactive in the fight against flu by turning a trip to get a flu vaccine into something fun. “Kick the Flu Out of School” is a grassroots campaign custom-made for community schools and designed to help parents and school leaders increase influenza immunization coverage in their schools. Nurses have the ability to bring this campaign into schools, by sharing the toolkit with parents, PTA and the school nurses.
Through a school-wide contest, the “Kick the Flu Out of School” campaign generates a sense of excitement among the children and school staff by asking students to have entry forms signed when they received their flu vaccine. These entry forms then become part of a drawing or other “sweepstakes”-type of event. Prizes, pizza parties, ice cream cones or principals shaving their mustaches: schools can tailor the campaign to suit their needs and institutional personality.
Voices for Vaccines offers the “Kick the Flu Out of School” toolkit on its website (www.tinyurl.com/vaxtools). This free toolkit includes a letter home to parents, a letter template to local businesses for prize solicitation, and entry forms for students. Everything in the kit is designed to be customizable in order to allow schools to really make this their campaign.
Nurses; let's work together to make getting flu vaccines a fun event for the students in our communities. Who knows maybe with a little effort and imagination, kids may look forward to protecting themselves from influenza- Not only because they may get a prize out of the deal but because it will keep them safe and healthy.