FREE FLU SHOTS FOR HAWAII KEIKI
Hawaii students to get free flu shots
The state Department of Health today began administering free flu vaccine to thousands of Hawai'i elementary and middle school students as part of the "Protect Hawaii's Keiki: Stop Flu At School" program.
Clinics will be set up on school campuses where students will be able to receive either the flu shot or nasal spray vaccine.
Among the first schools to offer the free vaccines today will be Waikiki Elementary School, at 3710 Leahi Ave., and Mid-Pacific Institute, 2445 Ka'ala St.
More than 335 school clinics are scheduled between October and December, a Health Department news release said.
More than 60,000 children are signed up to receive flu vaccine this fall through the program, the release said. Of participating students, about 53,000 attend public schools. Additionally, nearly 7,000 teachers and school staff will receive the flu vaccine, pushing the total number of vaccinations near 70,000.
"We hope this program helps to remind everyone about the importance of getting their seasonal flu vaccine this year," said Health Director Dr. Chiyome L. Fukino, in a statement. "The students and faculty participating in this program are a great example for all of us. Getting the flu vaccine is everyone's best protection against the flu."
"Following the success of last year's program, we are excited to be offering the free flu vaccine to elementary and middle school students at their schools," said Patricia Hamamoto, superintendent of Hawai'i public schools. "We anticipate that participation in the Stop Flu at School program will translate into fewer sick days and more quality learning time in the classroom."
The $2.5 million program offers free flu shots and nasal spray vaccines to schoolchildren ages 5 to 13. The shots and sprays will be administered at 337 public and private school statewide over the next few months.
Last year, Hawai'i became the first state to offer a program providing free vaccines to school keiki. The program is a partnership between the Health Department, the state Department of Education, the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and Hawaii Catholic Schools, among other organizations.
Consent forms were sent home with parents earlier this school year and were due back to the schools by Sept. 5.
Now in its second year, the program vaccinated more than 60,451 elementary and middle school students last year.
That amounts to about 41 percent of total students in the target age group. The program also helped more than 9,222 school faculty and staff get vaccinated.