OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oakland pre-K and elementary school students can once again get free flu vaccines this fall at school through Shoo the Flu, a program to reduce flu in the community. Now in its second year, Shoo the Flu is a partnership of the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), funded by the Page Family Foundation.
“In 2014, we were able to provide over 8,000 vaccinations at over 100 Oakland area schools. We’re building on that success by expanding our program to include more schools and hopefully vaccinate more students,” said Erica Pan, MD, MPH, Director of the Division of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention at Alameda County Public Health Department. “Students can spread the flu quickly. School-based flu vaccine programs are one of the best ways to protect the community against the flu.”
Shoo the Flu is expanding in 2015 because of the success of the 2014 program. Many Oakland Head Start schools as well as new private and charter schools and three schools in Piedmont will be included in the program. The overall goal of the program is to continue to expand geographically, within the boundaries of Oakland, in order to increase the number of students receiving protection against the flu. With the addition of these new schools, there will be a total of 140 schools sites participating, up from 110 sites in 2014. Similar to last year, students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade in participating Oakland schools can receive the flu vaccine during school hours. Receiving the flu vaccine is voluntary, and is free for students, with or without insurance. Most children will receive flu protection through a nasal spray instead of an injection. Children with certain health conditions like asthma may need to get an injection.
“It’s important for parents and guardians to know that vaccines administered at Flu Vaccine Days are the same as what students would receive from their regular health care provider,” said Cheryl Burden, program manager of OUSD Nursing Services. “We’ve found that the nasal spray is effective for vaccinations given at schools, where needles can cause some anxiety. There was tremendous success during last year’s program and we’re looking forward to providing the same level of care during the 2015 program.”
New this year, Kaiser Permanente, Northern California Region, has signed on as an official partner of Shoo the Flu. As a leader in the health care industry, Kaiser is endorsing this program as a convenient and effective way to improve flu vaccination rates in children and decrease flu burden in the community.
Besides protecting students and reducing flu in the community, school-based flu vaccine programs reduce absenteeism in students and teachers. For students to get flu protection, parents/guardians must complete and return a consent form, available from schools or at www.ShooTheFlu.org. In addition to OUSD schools, Flu Vaccine Days will be held at private schools, charter schools and schools of the Catholic Archdiocese of Oakland. Staff at participating schools may also receive their flu vaccine at school, at no cost.
Shoo the Flu is once again partnering with the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health to study whether school-based flu vaccine programs reduce the spread of flu in the community. UC Berkeley researchers will conduct a pilot of the evaluation, named the Bay Area Flu Study, this school year. They will ask parents/guardians and community members to complete surveys on flu and flu-like illness in their households. Parent/guardian recruitment will take place through a small subset of OUSD schools. Parent/guardian participation in the surveys is not a requirement for students to receive a flu vaccine through Shoo the Flu. The Bay Area Flu Study will provide evidence-based findings for creating sustainable school-based vaccine programs.
About the Flu
The flu, also called influenza, is a contagious disease that spreads by coughing, sneezing and close contact. Flu symptoms include fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough and headache. The flu is preventable. The flu vaccine is the most effective way to reduce the chances that people will get the flu and spread it to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for most people over six months old. People can also protect themselves from the flu by having healthy habits: covering their cough with their shoulder or sleeve (not their hands), washing hands frequently and staying home if they do get sick.
About Shoo the Flu
Shoo the Flu is a program to prevent the flu by bringing flu vaccine to Oakland pre-K and elementary school students. By protecting students against the flu, the benefits extend to the larger community. It is a collaboration with the Alameda County Public Health Department, California Department of Public Health and the Oakland Unified School District, funded by the Page Family Foundation. Shoo the Flu is endorsed by California Chapter 1, American Academy of Pediatrics, Kaiser-Permanente and Sutter Health.
About the Bay Area Flu Study
The Bay Area Flu Study is an evaluation conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health to study the impact of Shoo the Flu. The study will assess whether school-based flu vaccination can increase vaccine rates among schoolchildren and whether increased flu vaccine rates can prevent the spread of flu within the community. This evaluation will help build a model for sustainable school-based flu vaccine programs. More information can be found at www.BayAreaFluStudy.org.
About Oakland Unified School District
The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is the State of California’s most improved urban school district over the past eight years, as measured by Academic Performance Index (API), California’s primary metric for measuring student achievement. During this time, the District’s 46,000 students have benefited from 128 points of API growth and a focus on the whole child embodied by OUSD’s “Community Schools, Thriving Students” vision of a full-service community school district. In this model, every school site offers high levels of learning along with physical health, mental health, dental and eye care; nutrition, physical education, recreation, before-school and afterschool programs; housing, employment, parenting and language acquisition courses and a range of other programs. Social and human services are not seen as extra or add-ons in these schools. Instead, collaboration in service of children and families is how they consistently behave. To learn more about “Community Schools, Thriving Students”, please visit: www.thrivingstudents.org.
About Alameda County Public Health Department
Covering 13 cities, including Alameda, Piedmont, Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, Dublin and Livermore, the Alameda County Public Health Department provides programs and services to protect the health and safety of County residents. ACPHD includes assessments of the health status of residents, disease prevention and control, community mobilization and outreach, policy development, education, and assurance of access to quality medical and health care services. With more than 600 employees, ACPHD is made of public health doctors, epidemiologists, dentists, medical social workers, therapists, dietitians, health educators, program managers and pre-hospital care coordinators in Health and Medical Services divisions. A key component of the ACPHD mission is seeking community involvement, including partnerships with grassroots and corporate entities, with individuals and groups.
About UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Founded in 1943, the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health jointly administers master of science (M.S.), master of arts (M.A.), and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees; it also awards a doctor of public health (Dr.P.H.) degree, and the master of public health (M.P.H.) degree in areas of concentration including Maternal & Child Health, Public Health Nutrition, Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology, Environmental Health Sciences among others. Building on a campus tradition of pre-eminent interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship, education and public engagement that challenges conventional thinking, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health develops diverse leaders equipped to help solve the health challenges of the 21st century and beyond.