An estimated 9,000 students from Rochester, Dover-Eyota, Stewartville, Pine Island Elementary, and Rochester Catholic Schools will get a flu shot this fall, and it’s all thanks to four public health organizations.
Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, and Olmsted and Dodge County Public Health Departments are teaming up for the 10th anniversary of the in-school clinic. When this particular clinic started in 2008, it was only offered in two schools and immunized 170 students. But this year, the clinic was offered in 54 buildings with more than 9,000 students on track to be immunized.
Additionally, 2018 is the first time the clinic is sending text messages to students to remind them about their shots.
Kasson-Mantorville High School students received their shots Monday morning, marking the first time the flu clinic has been offered at schools in the Kasson-Mantorville School District.
High school senior Jakob Kujath gets his shot every year because, he says, it’s important to him. “If I get [the flu], I’m a potential hazard to other people, and I don’t want to be that person who gets a bunch of people sick,” he said.
Kujath added that getting the text message ahead of time was very convenient. “I’m not used to that, because I’m used to finding a different time after school and working it into my schedule. This had made it really convenient.”
The move to start sending text messages started because the clinic had a difficult time reaching registered students, whether that be finding them in school or the students just didn’t hear the announcement over the school’s PA system.
“[The text messages] remind kids the day before and after that we are coming to their building. We’ve also seen a huge increase in the number of students that reported,” said Kristina Hesby, who works for Mayo as a school health program coordinator.
The only thing different about the in-school clinic versus getting the shot at a doctor’s office is the location. “There is a bill that’s created, but there’s no additional charge,” she said.
Getting a flu shot this year is particularly important: 435 people died in Minnesota from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 influenza season, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Five of those were under 18 years old.
“It’s the best step we can take in addition to washing our hands to prevent getting the flu. Also, if you’re exposed to the influenza virus, your immune system will hopefully be more prepared and hopefully you’ll get less symptoms than you were if you were unvaccinated,” added Hesby.
She also warns of the old wives tale that the flu shot causes the flu. “We try to dispel those myths as much as we can, but sometimes they stick. You will not get the flu from getting the flu shot.”