- By Kelley Luckstein
Best Way to Protect a Community from Flu? Immunize the Kids!
Olmsted County area public and private schools offering school-located influenza vaccination clinics
ROCHESTER, Minn. — “Everyone needs the influenza vaccine every year,” says Robert Jacobson, M.D., pediatrician and medical director of the Employee and Community Health Immunization Program at Mayo Clinic. “And school-aged children have two more reasons than everyone else. They are more likely to get the influenza infection, and they are the ones more likely to start the spread of influenza in the community.”
Kids easily spread influenza, and they carry the virus home to their families. Kids miss school, and parents miss work.
That’s why Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, Olmsted County Public Health and Olmsted County area private and public schools are teaming up to vaccinate children at their schools. “It’s like disarming the hot spot before it boils over,” says Linda Haeussinger, public health nurse manager at Olmsted County Public Health.
Only a dozen counties in Minnesota offer this unique program, and only 53 percent of children under the age of 17 were vaccinated last year, according to the 2013 Olmsted County Community Health Needs Assessment.
“Mass vaccination of school-aged children is the most effective way to prevent widespread outbreaks of the influenza virus within a community,” says Dr. Jacobson. School-based clinics are a convenient way for parents to get their children vaccinated and to keep this preventable disease out of the classroom.
All vaccines in the schools will be administered by Mayo Clinic or Olmsted Medical Center nurses. The vaccine will be billed directly to the child’s insurance and will be recorded in the child’s electronic medical record. “This is truly a group of organizations collaborating with all their robust resources and making the health of the community a priority,” says licensed school nurse lead Kimberly Pokrandt.
- Clinics will be operating at 36 schools across Olmsted County between Sept. 16 and Oct. 10.
- Visit your local school website for information on how to register your child for the school-located influenza vaccination program or to find out if your school is participating. You may also visit http://www.semnic.org.
Available for interviews:
- Linda Haeussinger, public health nurse manager, Olmsted County Public Health, 507-328-7437
- Robert Jacobson, M.D., pediatrician and medical director of the Employee and Community Health Immunization Program, Mayo Clinic, 507-284-5005
- Kimberly Pokrandt, licensed school nurse lead, Rochester Public Schools, 507-328-4122
- Jeremy Salucka, communications and Web services coordinator, Olmsted Medical Center, 507-292-7203
See a clinic in action:
- Longfellow Elementary School, Sept. 16, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., please contact Heather Nessler, ISD 535 executive director of communications, 507-328-4500, to arrange a visit.
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to medical research and education, and providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/.