Many of the boys and girls at King Community Learning Center in West Akron giggled after getting a blast of the FluMist in both nostrils. They said it tickled.
First grader Kourtlen Warren and 3rd grader Kristin Morehouse compared the sensation to drinking a fizzy soda pop too quickly.
Most kids were relieved to learn they were getting the FluMist instead of an injection, and the kids who were somewhat reluctant to get the flu vaccine got more enthusiastic when they saw they would be rewarded with a colorful gel bracelet that identified them as a “Health Hero.”
Last week, Akron Children’s began offering the flu vaccines in nearly a dozen schools, making it easier and more convenient than ever to get children immunized.
On Tuesday alone, about 2,000 Akron Public School children were immunized. The rest of the district was covered on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Akron Children’s has partnered with an organization called Health Heroes to make this happen,” said Michele Wilmoth, director of school health services for Akron Children’s. “This is something we have long wanted to do, and Health Heroes made it possible by handling many of the details.”
The objective is to provide the flu vaccine to all children whose parents consent to it regardless of their health insurance coverage. Flu vaccines are provided at no cost to students, parents, or schools or local/state government.
The participating schools and school districts are:
- Akron Public Schools
- Akros Middle School
- Coventry Local Schools
- Edge Academy
- Field Local Schools
- Nordonia Hills City Schools
- North Canton City Schools
- Rootstown Schools
- Walsh Jesuit High School
- Woodridge Local Schools
- Wooster City Schools
- UDS Steel Academy
“This is a win-win for everyone,” said Wilmoth. “We can save parents a trip to the doctor and keep kids in class. If we get more kids immunized, we can reduce the risk of influenza in our schools and communities and we can especially reduce the risk for our more vulnerable children, such as those with chronic health conditions.”
The process of giving the flu shots were as easy and orderly as each school’s student picture day, says Wilmoth.
The vaccinations are administered by state-licensed nurses. FluMist, a pain free, nasal spray, is provided, and injections are also available.
Health Heroes takes care of collecting consent forms and bills private insurance carriers and Medicaid for the cost of the vaccine. The organization’s business model allows it to absorb the cost of vaccines for uninsured children. Teachers and school staff are also offered the vaccine.