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Johnson County Health Department leads flu fight in schools

MOUNTAIN CITY, TENN. – It’s August and as students, parents and teachers prepare for another productive school year, staff members at the Johnson County Health Department are preparing flyers, forms and flu vaccine to keep influenza out of Johnson County Schools.

“This is our 6th year of providing flu vaccinations at schools and we couldn’t be happier with the welcome we get from Johnson County school staff members, the appreciation of parents and especially the increasing number of students who get vaccinated each year,” said Johnson County Health Department Director Caroline Hurt.   “The students know they’re protecting themselves. What they may not know is how much they’re protecting people around them, such as grandparents and even total strangers, from this potentially deadly infection.”

“It’s impossible to know how many lives are spared severe sickness or even death as a result of this effort,” said State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD. “But the evidence suggests providing flu vaccine in schools reduces the spread of flu in communities and keeps young learners healthy and in the classroom.”

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH said the school-based flu immunization effort also serves another important purpose: It allows public health departments across the state to practice for emergencies where schools may be used for mass distribution of vaccine or other medicine in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

“School-based flu vaccine programs give us regular opportunities to practice our plans to provide critical, life-saving medications during emergencies,” Dreyzehner said. “In many communities, schools would be important distribution points for a variety of vaccines and medications. So when we provide flu vaccine at schools, we’re also refining logistics of emergency medicine and keeping relationships with schools current. I couldn’t be prouder of the Johnson County Health Department team for their work in preventing flu now and in preparing for any possible health threat that may arise in the future.”

“We have coordinated efforts among local health departments and school systems to make sure there is no out-of-pocket cost to parents for these school-based vaccination clinics” said Kathy Snyder, Director of Nursing at the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office. If your child is uninsured, there is no cost. If your child is covered by insurance, including TennCare and private insurance, the county health department will file a claim with the insurance plan and receive reimbursement directly from the insurance plan.

For more information about flu vaccine contact your health care provider or the Johnson County Health Department at 423-727-9731.