DOH kicks off 'Stop the Flu at School' program

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Department of Health is kicking off the fifth annual Protect Hawaii's Keiki: Stop Flu at School program.

The program offers free flu vaccinations to kids in grades kindergarten through 8th grade.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz;  Hawaii State Department of Health's Health Director, Loretta Fuddy; and State Epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Park met at the Lieutenant's office on Tuesday, encouraging parents to complete consent forms and return them to their child's school no later than Friday, September  9th.

The Department of Health will offer free flu vaccines to elementary and middle school children at 336 public, private and charter schools worldwide.

The statewide annual flu vaccination program was introduced in 2007 and since then has administered 300,000 flu vaccinations to children and school faculty and staff during the past four flu seasons.

The program will cost around $2 million this year but will be funded by federal money from the American reinvestment and recovery act.

There was 68,000 students that were vaccinated last year and the state is looking to vaccinate more this year.

The state partners with private and public health organizations like the Aloha United way and Hawaii Pacific University to help administer the shots on school grounds. Students are able to choose how they want to receive the vaccination: through a nasal spray or vaccination shot.

"It doesn't just keep our students healthy but it also keeps our families healthy. Parents and grandparents obviously get the flu from kids so this will protect parents and grandparents," said Schatz.

Dr. Sarah Park urges the state to take precautions when they believe that they have the flu by washing hands, covering cough and sneezes, along with staying at home in order to prevent getting others sick.

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