LANCASTER — Kaiser Permanente is making it easier for local students to protect themselves against the flu and its potential complications.
Through Kaiser’s Teach Flu a Lesson program, children at participating local elementary schools are offered the flu vaccine for free, with parental permission, regardless of insurance status.
“Vaccinating school children against influenza is the most important thing we can do to keep kids healthy and decrease school absences during flu season,” said David Bronstein, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist for Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley. “More importantly, protecting school kids with the flu vaccine prevents them from bringing the flu home and spreading it to their younger, more vulnerable siblings and to older adults who are at the highest risk of serious complications.”
The Teach Flu a Lesson program involves Kaiser Permanente and a partnership with 15 local nursing schools and the California Department of Public Health. Nursing students administer the vaccines at the elementary schools as part of their degree requirements. Participation in the Teach Flu a Lesson program also offers a benefit to parents by eliminating the need for them to take time off from work to get their children vaccinated.
This year, 131 Southern California schools at 14 school districts hosted the vaccination clinics, which included the expansion to six schools in the Antelope Valley through a partnership with the Lancaster School District and the University of Antelope Valley, where over 195 vaccinations were administered.
“Every year, many students succumb to the flu and miss important time at school,” said Stephanie Pielech, Lead School Nurse, Lancaster School District. “The value of the Teach Flu a Lesson is that it helps ensure access to a flu shot for all of our students keeping them healthy and ready to learn.”
“The flu is more dangerous than the common cold for young children because their immune systems are still developing,” said Lisa Buffong, MPH, associate medical group administrator, Southern California Permanente Medical Group. “Every year, millions of children get sick with the flu, many are hospitalized, and some even die due to complications from the flu. The Teach Flu a Lesson program helps increase access to flu shots in the communities that need it most, and we’re very proud of the work being done to ensure these students are protected.”
To learn more about Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s work in the Antelope Valley community, visit http://community.kp.org.
[Information via news release from Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley.]