(Gillette, Wyo.) The Campbell County School District vaccinated 2,360 students for influenza at 23 schools between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6. The VIP, Vaccine for Influenza Prevention, is a county-wide partnership among the school district, Campbell County Public Health, Campbell County Health and the Campbell County Health Foundation.
The program, now in its third year, came about after the 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment when community members determined a vaccination program could help improve school year attendance by reducing absences due to influenza. Purchase of the vaccine is funded by the Sports Screening Fund, Campbell County Government, First Interstate Bank, Gillette Energy Rotary and Wyoming Quality Heathcare.
Director of Student Support Services Kip Farnum said the goal of the VIP program is to vaccinate 25 percent of school age children for influenza. “Normally, there are around 1,800 kids that are out with the flu . . . And after our first year, we only had 800 kids out, so that’s huge.”
The VIP program provides access to flu vaccinations for students who may not otherwise be vaccinated for any number of reasons. Kids who are vaccinated as part of the program do get their parents’ approval. “At the beginning of the school year, we send them a permission slip and if they don’t fill it out and send it back, their kid does not participate in the program,” Farnum said.
Farnum estimates there are about 100 doses of the vaccine that weren’t administered during the two-week program. Those doses are taken to Campbell County Public Health and will be administered to school age children free of charge.