Thanks to flu vaccine, the county gets grant
Because 66 percent of students got a flu shot, the county was rewarded with a $25,000 grant.
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 11:39 p.m.
Thanks to the efforts of a local coalition, more than 66 percent of Alachua County's students were immunized against the flu last year.
When it comes to seasonal flu, that made Gainesville among the best-protected communities in the nation.
Those efforts were recognized Wednesday by the National Association of County and City Health Officials, or NACCHO, which has awarded a $25,000 grant to continue the effort to immunize all local school-age children against influenza.
Dr. Paul Etkind, a senior analyst for the national health organization, announced the funding at a meeting of the Protecting Alachua County from Flu Coalition.
Although two of every three eligible youngsters were reached by the flu immunization program last year, coalition members hope to do better. Only two programs in the nation received a grant from NACCHO.
“This grant will help ensure that we can continue to protect our children and the broader community from the flu,” said Dr. Parker Small, who spearheads the coalition.
Small is professor emeritus with the University of Florida College of Medicine.
He cites studies from Japan, where school immunization was required for a decade, to show the effectiveness of the program.
If 70 percent of the children in a community — the young “super spreaders” of flu and other viruses — receive a flu vaccine, studies show illnesses in the entire community will plummet.
Small estimates that about 20,000 doses of flu vaccine will be needed to continue the program in schools here. As part of the grant, local officials will help those in Escambia County immunize more children.
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