With the beginning of flu season, Alachua County residents are taking action to prevent illness. Students at Glen Springs Elementary lined up for free FluMist vaccinations Tuesday morning.
FluMist is a needle-free nasal spray that helps protect against four strains of influenza.
Fourth grade student, Isabella, said she had the flu last year and does not want to have it again.
“I didn’t get the FluMist or shot and I was terribly sick for two weeks,” she said. “I had a headache and I did not have an appetite at all, so I didn’t eat for like three days straight, but my mom made me.”
First-grader, Trevor, also had the flu last year.
“It seemed like I had a lot of sneezing,” he said.
Both students got the mist this year and had smiles on their faces afterwards. Isabella said it was cold and felt good and Trevor said he felt “a little tickle.”
The mist was administered by Control Flu, a school-located influenza vaccination program providing free vaccinations to pre-K through 12th grade students with parental consent.
Pat Hughes, director of Alachua County Health Services, said getting parents’ permission is one of the greatest obstacles in the process.
Hughes said parents in certain communities often believe the myth that the flu is “the same thing as chickenpox — it’s better to have them get it and get it over with.”
Hughes described vaccination as a chain reaction.
“If we have all our students immunized — and that way we prevent them from getting the flu — they won’t give the flu to their adults, to their grandparents, to the elderly, to the disabled… we keep them healthier,” he said.
Hughes said the ultimate goal is to have 100 percent of the students in Alachua County vaccinated.
“That’s the goal of community immunity,” he said. “The more you immunize, the healthier your community is.”
The Control Flu program will continue to administer the FluMist to all public schools in Alachua County.