“Kick the flu out of school”

As children and their families prepare to head back to school, the parents of Voices for Vaccines (www.voicesforvaccines.org), together with Nurses Who Vaccinate (nurseswhovaccinate.blogspot.com) and Families Fighting Flu (www.familiesfightingflu.org), have worked together again to help schools to get a head start on preventing influenza. During the 2013-2014 school year, 100 children died from influenza in the United States. Unimmunized children have nearly a four times greater risk of being admitted to the ICU than children who are fully immunized against influenza. Forty-five percent of the influenza illness ICU admissions were in otherwise healthy children. About 1 in 10 children admitted to the ICU with flu complications died.

Rather than sit back and hope students get immunized against influenza, schools can get proactive in the fight against flu by turning a trip to get a flu vaccine into something fun. “Kick the Flu Out of School” is a grassroots campaign custom-made for community schools and designed to help parents and school leaders increase influenza immunization coverage in their schools.

Through a school-wide contest, the “Kick the Flu Out of School” campaign generates a sense of excitement among the children and school staff by asking students to have entry forms signed when they received their flu vaccine. These entry forms then become part of a drawing or other “sweepstakes”-type of event. Prizes, pizza parties, principals shaving their moustaches or getting that long-needed new hairstyle: schools can tailor the campaign to suit their needs and institutional personality.

Voices for Vaccines offers the “Kick the Flu Out of School” toolkit on its website (www.tinyurl.com/vaxtools). This free toolkit includes a letter home to parents, a letter template to local businesses for prize solicitation, and entry forms for students. Everything in the kit was designed to be customizable in order to allow schools to really make this their campaign.

Voices for Vaccines (VFV) is a parent-driven organization supported by scientists, doctors, and public health officials that provides parents clear, science-based information about vaccines and vaccine-preventable disease, as well as an opportunity to join the national discussion about the importance of on-time vaccination.