Flu Season: Vaccination and Prevention

Flu season is upon us, and exciting things are happening this year in Newton.

Seasonal flu vaccine will be offered during the school day to all students in kindergarten through grade 12 at no cost to families. Parents may choose the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine for their child. More information, including dates and consent forms is available at www.newtonma.gov/flu or from the school nurse. Clinics will run from late October through early December.

Seasonal flu vaccine is free this year at school because the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is providing vaccine to communities who choose to vaccinate school-age children. The City of Newton Health & Human Services Department is providing the vaccination supplies and staff time to run the program, with the help of Medical Reserve Corps volunteers.

As is typical, the 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccine provides protection against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season, known as 2009 H1N1.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend seasonal flu vaccine for everyone who is at least 6 months old. Adults and children who are at least 9 years old need only 1 dose of seasonal flu vaccine.

Some children age 8 and younger will need two doses of seasonal flu vaccine. For help determining if your child needs two doses of seasonal flu vaccine this year, contact your child’s health care provider, the school nurse, the health department or visit the flu website.

In addition to vaccination, it is important to practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette by washing hands often; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the arm; not touching eyes, nose and mouth and staying home when sick.

For more flu prevention tips, talk to the school nurse or check out these websites: www.newtonma.gov/flu and www.cdc.gov/flu.

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