State Vaccination Program Picks up Steam

Martha Nicholas
Martha Nicholas
Dr. Sarah Park
Dr. Sarah Park

(KHNL) - The State Department of Health launched a full-scale assault against influenza in Hawaii's elementary and middle schools.

All of them -- public and private.

And, by the end of January, health officials will adminster a remarkable 97,000 flu vaccines to students, faculty and staff.

The needle sure looks long, when you're a kid.

Just ask Kayla Park, a first grader at Sacred Hearts Academy.

Consent form in hand, these students can now get vaccinated.

''A lot of parents don't have time to take off from the job, to take their child in to get vaccinated against flu," explains Dr. Sarah Park of the State Health Department. "This is an option for them if their child is willing to do it in that school setting."

Oh, but that darn needle.

Despite a few wet eyes, most of the students faced-down their fears and did the big girl thing.

''I just sat there and then closed my eyes and never felt nothing," says first grader, Martha Nicholas.

''One of the kids was saying, whoa, look at my need band-aid and another said the flu mist doesn't hurt at all," added Dr. Park. "They were comparing notes. it was kind of cute, you know."

As for young Kayla -- well, it just wasn't her day.

Still, it's a vaccination opportunity that'll be there for her -- and for everyone else -- for years to come.

''For me as a pediatrician," says Dr. Park. "Something like this on a mass scale, this is a validation of why i went into medicine, why i went into public health."

For the healing, a band aid, and a hug.

And, parents, listen up.

If your children don't like needles, there is alternative.

Health officials are also offering the flu vaccine through a nasal spray.