Feb. 14, 2018 – Healthy Schools LLC, the largest provider of in-school flu vaccinations in Florida and Texas, reports an uncharacteristic surge in demand for flu shots this season with a need so great that some districts are holding second mid-season district-wide vaccination clinics, and other schools are signing up for vaccination programs next season.
With the H3N2 flu virus causing higher hospitalization rates than in routine years and the CDC reporting 53 children dead from the virus, the severe epidemic has stirred a renewed and urgent interest for flu shots. The CDC also reports that this flu season has not peaked yet, and the worst is still to come. However, it is not too late to get your child a flu shot; it will still be beneficial. While this year’s vaccine is less effective than in previous years due to the variations of the flu virus and forecasting errors about which strain will dominate in any season, those who receive flu vaccinations will have less severe symptoms if they get sick.
Healthy Schools LLC, founded by former left tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tony Boselli, works with local school districts and their accompanying health departments in Florida and Texas to provide Flu Vaccines to students at no cost. The benefits are several – any child can get a flu shot regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, and schools can manage flu vaccine programs and cut down on absenteeism, outbreaks and hospitalizations. Programs are managed in conjunction with the school nurse, and shots are given on campus at the start of each flu season. As a result of this solid infrastructure and its partnership with CareDox, a digital health platform used by over 4000 schools to manage medical immunization records, Healthy Schools is in a unique position to respond to this year’s burgeoning epidemic with its easy, portable turnkey solution for schools.
Only 61.8% of children under the age of 12 get flu shots as reported by the CDC (1). Parents most often have to arrange flu shots with their family health provider, if they have one, or go to a retail pharmacy that offers vaccinations. Most insurers cover flu shots but those families without insurance have to pay out of pocket for each shot. Healthy Schools, in devising a way to cover every child in a school for free regardless of insurance status and giving the vaccinations in schools offers a holistic solution leaving no child behind that can be duplicated in any school district in the country.
With the severity of this year’s deadly epidemic, some school districts are asking for a second round of clinics for the children who haven’t yet received their vaccinations.
“Healthy Schools will step in and try to meet the increased demand in the interest of savings lives, and we are aggressively working with school officials and county and state health officials to devise the strategy that will vaccinate the most children,” said Tony Boselli, founder and CEO of Healthy Schools. “We are seeing a surge in interest for next year’s vaccination programs as well, and we are setting up new school districts and hopefully the compliance rate will be much higher going forward.”
It has been decades since a severe flu has appeared and reinforced the idea of herd immunity. However, this deadly flu season has proven to be the worst in a decade and has cost the lives of 53 children and spiked hospitalization rates. While county health officials and school officials are directing parents to use their local health providers or pharmacies to get a flu shot, using the infrastructure of the school district has logistical and financial advantages for both parents and schools. The greatest advantage to school districts is that no child has to go without a flu shot because of Healthy Schools’ ability to vaccinate all students – a factor especially meaningful currently with school closing widespread in this year’s epidemic.
As an immediate emergency response, Healthy Schools will be hosting flu shot clinics for students in Clay, Sumter and Duval counties beginning on February 12th. Healthy Schools will be evaluating additional requests from other districts.