In-school flu shot program reaches fever pitch
A Southeast Minnesota collaborative to deliver flu shots to students is hitting record levels this year.
In total, some 9,000 junior-high and senior-high students have been, or will be, inoculated under the collaborative involving Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, Olmsted County Public Health and Dodge County Public Health. That collaboration is in its 10th year.
It started with 170 student immunizations in two schools. This year, 9,000 students will receive flu shots in 54 school buildings.
The Kasson-Mantorville district was added to the lineup this year, which added about 580 students to that total.
Jakob Kujath, a senior at Kasson-Mantorville senior high school, was one of about 120 students given the flu shot on Monday.
He touted the ease of the clinic, located in the school library.
In previous years, Kujath had received his flu shot at the middle school, which ate into his extracurricular and homework time.
"It’s a lot more convenient than trying to take time out of our schedules for after school," Kujath said.
Holding the flu shots at school also helps raise awareness for an important aspect of public health, he said, as having more vaccinated students helps protect the school at large from an influenza outbreak.
Kristina Hesby, the RN program coordinator for school health with Mayo, said that in the four weeks since the clinic started administering flu shots, they’ve already gotten to about 8,000 students at middle and high schools around Olmsted County.
That’s 8,000 patients who don’t have to make appointments at clinics, making it easier for other residents to find a time slot that works, Hesby said.
The students at the participating schools pre-register for the shots and, upon showing up for the in-school clinics, are billed normally through insurance, just as if they were seen in Mayo Clinic.
Kujath didn’t even miss class, he said.
He also was part of a pilot texting program, in which students received reminders on their phone shortly before the flu shot clinic opened.
In previous years, the in-school flu shot clinics have had up to 50-100 no-shows — students who signed up but didn’t report for their shot, Hesby said.
With the text message reminders, she said, that number has dropped to 20, maybe 25 unexplained absences, she said.