PREPARING FOR FLU SEASON: Local school systems, health departments team up to provide flu shots

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- School systems in our region are working to get ahead of flu season following one of the worst flu seasons on record last year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children ages 6 months and older get the flu shot as early as possible this year. 

Last year 179 children in the United States died from flu complications.

Thursday afternoon we sat down with Regional Medical Director at the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, Stephen May, who said they should be getting the flu vaccine in stock any day now.

“We kick off our vaccination campaign as quick as we get the vaccine in, we hope to start vaccinating even if it’s as early as next week,” May said. 

May said they partner with area school systems in Sullivan County in order to administer the flu shots to children, emphasizing how important it is to take preventative measures before the flu hits.

“We’ve always found that the school-age kids are where the disease begins and they are the major spreaders so if we can immunize the children that are the spreaders, we can prevent it from getting into our adult and high risk population,” May said.

In Johnson City we found the school system just recently sent a letter home to parents, letting them know they will soon be offering free flu shots.

Debra Bentley with Johnson City Schools said they’ve partnered with the Washington County Health Department for years in order to provide this service.

“In the 2017-2018 school year we had 607 students who did take advantage of the flu vaccination…not only do we provide free vaccinations to students we provide free vaccinations to all of our employees as well,” Bentley said.

We also found Kingsport City Schools is preparing for flu season with vaccinations.

Nursing Supervisor, Vicki Johnston, said they work to teach students from a young age how important it is to take preventative measures like washing your hands.

“…even in our Pre-K centers to do frequent hand washing and how to hand wash appropriately and the length of time…we teach them to cough or sneeze in their sleeve versus in their hands,” Johnston said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website, the nasal spray vaccine will also be available again this year and, “is approved for use in non-pregnant individuals, 2 years through 49 years of age.”  

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