Flu Immunization National Award

  • Local Flu Immunization Program
    Wins National Award

    ImageA local initiative to immunize schoolchildren against the flu will be receiving an Immunization Excellence Award during the upcoming National Influence Vaccine Summit, which is sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The Protecting Alachua County from Flu coalition has been notified that its 2010 school-based flu immunization program is one of four national winners of the award. The local project took top honors in the Immunization Coalitions/Public Health/Community Campaign category.  Coalition members will be accepting the award on May 10 in San Diego, California.

    “We’re thrilled that our local program has been recognized at the national level,” said Dr. Parker Small, Emeritus Professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine and one of the founders of the local initiative. “Credit has to go to the many local partners who have helped make this initiative such a success."

    The school-based flu immunization program is a community-wide effort that included the Alachua County Health Department, Alachua County Public Schools, UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute and a coalition of other groups and individuals, including local pediatricians, the Black Nurses Association, the UF colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and the Department of Pediatrics, among others. Funding for the vaccine was provided through grants from AvMed Healthcare and the county’s CHOICES program.

    About 50% of Alachua County’s elementary and middle school students and 16% of high school students received the FluMist nasal vaccine at school free of charge during the fall of 2010. The overall community immunization rate for 2010 was between 60 and 65%. That figure includes those children who could not receive the flu mist at school for medical reasons and instead received a flu shot from their pediatrician or at the Health Department.

    Information about the local initiative will also be presented at a national school nurses conference this summer, and an online packet about the program is being developed for national distribution.

    “We can be very proud that Alachua County is serving as a national model for other communities,” said Jean Munden, director of the health department. “What we’ve developed here will help keep people healthy across the country.”