— Dalina Castellanos, LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/S9G60b
Photo: A nurse loads a syringe for a flu vaccine injection at the Mississippi Department of Health in Jackson, Miss. Credit: Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press
October 29, 2012 | 2:19 pm :: Four schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District will offer free flu vaccination clinics Tuesday for students, their families and staff, district officials announced Monday at the Edward Roybal Learning Center.
Student leaders in the school’s library were told about the risks of getting sick and the responsibility of spreading the word about the vaccine.
“When you get the flu, you’ll know it. It knocks you off your feet,” said Kim Uyeda, director of medical services for the district.
The illness’ effects aren’t confined to those infected, she said. One sick person can affect others’ lives as well.
“Parents have to stay home from work to take care of you and you run the risk of infecting others,” Uyeda said.
Some students responded by saying they were afraid of the shot, or that their parents were worried about the cost of the vaccine.
Uyeda calmed their nerves by announcing that most people would be eligible for a nasal mist and not an injection.
“Last year I had the flu or something like it. I had a fever and a runny nose for two weeks,” said Javier Siria, 17, who said he didn’t want the shot because it would hurt.
“It was a bad experience and I don’t want to go through that again, so I’m taking the mist this year.”
Dafne Martinez, 18, said her mother is skeptical when it comes to the flu shot. “She thinks they’ll inject me with the virus and she’d rather do home remedies.”
Martinez, who wants to study nursing, said now that she’s 18 she doesn’t need parental consent for the vaccine but that she is still working to get her parents’ consent for her younger sister to get the flu shot.
“She’s a freshman, so I have to take care of her. I hope she’ll get the shot and tell all of her friends.”
The school-located seasonal influenza vaccination clinic is an extension of the school district’s Communicable Disease program, which provides more than 25,000 vaccinations in school-located health clinics annually.
According to a recent study of 4,500 elementary school students in the Los Angeles area, researchers from USC and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles found that seasonal influenza rates were lower and, correspondingly, school attendance rates were higher at schools with school-located influenza vaccination programs compared with schools without.
Flu clinics will be available Tuesday at Roybal and Roosevelt High School as well as Thomas Edison and Mark Twain middle schools.
Injections and nasal mist vaccines will be available at no cost to students and staff from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and to their families after 2 p.m.
“The best way to get to graduation is to have 100% attendance,” said school board President Monica Garcia. “When we’re safe and healthy, we get to our goal.”