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CCHCF Flu vaccination project on hold for a year

Campbell County Healthcare Foundation’s ambitious student flu vaccination project is on hold for a year.

The VIP, or Vaccines for Influenza Prevention project’s goal is to provide free flu vaccination (both shots and nasal vaccine) for 2,500 school children, or 25 percent of the students enrolled in Campbell County School District (CCSD).

Under the plan, nurses from Campbell County Public Health would travel to 21 area schools to give the vaccines, using the Kid Clinic van. The Healthcare Foundation hoped to start the project in the 2014-2015 school year, but didn’t secure the $58,000 in funding necessary to purchase vaccine, supplies and labor in time. Orders for the flu vaccine are typically placed in January or February of the prior year to ensure that the vaccine is manufactured and shipped in time for flu season. For example, the hospital orders its supply of flu vaccine in February, with the employee and volunteer vaccination program beginning in October.

The Foundation was about $16,000 short of its fundraising goal at the end of May, but generous last-minute donations totaling $20,000 exceeded the goal—$10,000 came from the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming and the remainder came from other donors.

Donors have been contacted to see if their gift can be postponed for a year so the project can move forward in the 2015-2016 school year—this way the project can begin an education campaign for this school year. Identified barriers to getting vaccinated against influenza include the cost of the vaccine, the time associated with going to a vaccination location and a lack of knowledge about the risks and benefits of vaccination. The VIP project eliminates the first two barriers, because the vaccine is free and given right at the child’s school during the day.

Influenza is a serious illness that affects the health and productivity of the whole community. Children with influenza miss school, and can pass the illness to family and friends. Parents must stay home from work with children who are ill, or they may contract influenza themselves, both resulting in lost time from work. According to CCSD, 402 students were absent from school due to influenza during the 2013-2014 flu season. And a study in the journal PharmacolEconomics showed that physicians report a range of 3.7 to 5.9 work days are lost with each diagnosis of influenza.

The Healthcare Foundation’s mission is to improve healthcare in the community, and this projects fits right in. A reduction in cases of the flu would have significant benefits for people of all ages, and potentially move Campbell County from its current spot of No. 2 on the list of highest incidence in flu cases in the state.

Beginning the education campaign this year will start to share information about the importance of vaccination with parents and others in the community. Almost everyone can have the flu vaccine without any adverse reaction, and numerous research studies show that the flu vaccination does not cause the flu.

The Healthcare Foundation, Campbell County School District and Campbell County Public Health thank the donors who have pledged their support to the VIP project: