Alachua County Public School students will be able to receive free flu shots for the second time this school year starting Wednesday.
The Alachua County Health Department administered flu shots in September but is offering students a second round of vaccines because of the illness’ severity this season, said Alachua County Health Department administrator Paul Myers. It is the first time the county is offered a second round since vaccines were offered in 2009. Vaccines will be administered to younger students first and then to older students until Feb. 23.
ACPS spokeswoman Jackie Johnson contacted the health department Friday, the same day the flu virus shut down Gulf County Public Schools in Florida’s panhandle, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The health department proposed offering a second round of vaccines.
“This is really the easiest way for kids to get their flu shot,” Johnson said.
Myers said parents and students should get vaccinated immediately and stay home if sick. The flu season is expected to last another month.
Elementary school children are especially susceptible to influenza infection and remain sick for longer periods of time, Myers said. During this flu season, school clinic visits have increased by 50 percent, he said.
“Studies have shown that if you vaccinate a significant percentage of children, then you can protect the community as a whole,” he said.