Remember when flu season use to arrive around the same time every year? No? Me neither! Some years the flu virus arrives very early in September and other years it appears like March Madness. Thus the planning for flu clinics happens early on in the school year, a prevention attempt to cross the finish line before the virus. The race is on.
Richmond Middle School Health Office will be coordinating a Free Flu Vaccine Clinic with The New Hampshire Immunization Program (NHIP) and partnership between Dartmouth Hitchcock and The Upper Valley Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. Whew, it takes a village of people and organizations (with really long titles!)...and Registered Nurses who know the students. The NHIP supplies the vaccines, protocols, training and standing orders for our student clinic, as well as three vaccinators (EMT’s).
The above-mentioned organizations rely on Registered Nurses working in schools, to manage critical details that make or break the success of a student flu clinic. I have found the same set up and rules for an adult flu clinic do not work for kids and especially in a school building. Factors such as schedule, time of day, health history, peers, privacy, fear, trust and how to be efficient and safe all play in to a successful vaccination clinic. Imagine having over 200 preteen and teen students all in one big room watching each other get their flu vaccine… this I try to avoid for obvious reasons. Here are some factors I find important to consider when planning a student flu vaccine clinic.
Education. Prior to the clinic (and through out the school year) there is often time to educate students and staff on the WHY of flu vaccine clinics. Nice to know why most times right? Guest speaker/interaction in science class is one way to achieve this as a school nurse.
Also important is a comfortable private setting with adults that teens recognize. Parent volunteers greet students, assist with paperwork, talk with them, ease any fears and make sure students feel comfortable. I am grateful to parents and teachers that assist, as student faces light up when they see trusted community members/parents and staff.
And as a parent myself, its wonderful to see a teen sent out the door to school (wanting "space”) still finds comfort in a parent now and then! Thanks parents and community resources for making theses clinics possible! Here's some data that I find interesting to reflect on as I plan this years clinic:
*6000 students from 101 New Hampshire public schools received a flu vaccination during the school day (2013 NHIP).
*NH had a total of 411 elementary and secondary public schools in 2012 (ed.gov)
*23% of 400 RMS students participated in last years flu clinic (I believe our school vaccination rate for flu to be much higher then this. Many students receive their vaccination at their doctors office or public weekend clinics. RMS is less then a 5 minute drive to many medical practices.)
*We administered both nasal and injectable flu vaccines at our school clinic.
*RMS flu clinic staff consisted of 3 EMTS, 3 RN’s, 1 Supervisor, 4 parent volunteers & 2 RMS staff members.
So let the planning begin for the October 16th 2014 RMS student flu clinic! And if you are living near the Upper Valley (Lebanon NH), DHMC will be hosting their first Sunday adult/child flu clinic September 29th.