Immunization project gets shot in the arm
WORTHINGTON -- Flu season doesn't get into full swing for another couple of months -- usually in November -- but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already issued its recommendation that all children ages 6 months through 18 years...
WORTHINGTON -- Flu season doesn't get into full swing for another couple of months -- usually in November -- but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already issued its recommendation that all children ages 6 months through 18 years receive vaccination against influenza for the 2009-2010 influenza season.
To begin making that recommendation a reality in the local community, Avera Worthington Specialty Clinics, Sanford Clinic Worthington, Worthington School District 518 and Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation (WRHCF) are collaborating to provide a flu shot clinic for local students.
Flu shots have previously been offered on a limited basis through the school system. According to District 518 registered nurse Wendy Donkersloot, a small number of students received the flu shot the last couple of years -- 75 in 2008 -- but this year, with the support of WRHCF, they hope to immunize at a good chunk of the student body.
"The mission statement of Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation is to promote, facilitate and undertake operations in favor of the health and education of the people of Worthington and residents of surrounding communities. The board of directors felt this flu shot clinic very much fit the mission and purposes of the foundation," explained Robert S. Demuth Jr., WRHCF executive director.
Influenza is easily transmitted and can quickly impact a school system, according to Donkersloot. Not only does it affect the student body, but the youths go home and pass the bug on to siblings, parents and the greater community.
"Even if the parents don't get sick, they're staying home, taking care of the kids," added Kelli Van Grouw, Avera clinic manager. "So this is a win-win situation for everyone."
The goal is to immunize one quarter of the District 518 population -- 600 students.
"We ... believe that will have a very positive impact on the amount of influenza in the community next year," explained Sanford Clinic manager Laurie Jensen in the grant application to WRHCF.
Sometime after school starts in September, parents will receive information in the mail about the flu shot clinic and a form providing consent for their child to be immunized. Part of the WRHCF grant will cover the costs of getting the information to parents. The signed forms should be returned to the health office at the participating child's school.
On the designated day (yet to be determined) for the flu shot clinic, both the Avera clinic and Sanford clinic will provide vaccine, supplies and staff. Both the flu shot, administered in the arm, and FluMist, a nasal form of the vaccine, will be available.
"That's why preregistration is so important," noted Van Grouw, "so we know how much (vaccine) we need."
If a student is covered by an insurance plan, a claim will be submitted for the shot. However, it is anticipated that approximately 40 percent of students will not be covered by insurance. The WRHCF grant will cover costs for students who are not insured, have an insurance deductible or have insurance that does not cover such immunizations, as well as the administrative costs for the clinic.
"Because of the foundation money, the families (that participate) won't have any out-of-pocket cost," Van Grouw.
Local officials are hopeful that by combining health resources in the community, they can stop the spread of influenza in the Worthington area before it starts.
"Speaking as executive director of the foundation and a lifetime resident of Worthington, it is refreshing to see both clinics in Worthington working together on this project," said Demuth. "On behalf of Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation Inc., I would encourage all the parents of School District 518 to take this project very seriously and encourage their children to participate."