- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The nursing staff at the Brunswick County Health Department was presented an award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners at a recent board meeting.
The 2011 Outstanding County Program Awards in Human Services was given to the nurses for their innovative immunization work with the Brunswick County Schools. The purpose of the health department’s School-based Influenza Vaccination Program is to increase vaccinations among school-aged children in Brunswick County.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in one year, the flu causes 38 million lost school days in the United States and school-based immunization programs help meet the challenges of helping to protect more children against the flu.
Brunswick County Health Department staff delivers primary prevention healthcare to school-aged children who might not receive such measures because of barriers to care, such as lack of ability to pay (60 percent of children were eligible for Medicaid), parents needing to miss work and children missing school to go to a clinic and lack of transportation. Due to all these problems, the Brunswick County Health Department brought the services to the students.
The School-based Influenza Vaccination Program was started with the mandatory Hepatitis B vaccination program for all sixth-graders. Rather than causing undue hardship by requiring parents to bring the student to the health department, a clinical decision was made to send an immunization team to the schools. This customer service increased immunizations rates because the students were a captive audience, with minimal interruption to class day and the parents did not have to take time off from work.
The successes of the Hepatitis B program lead to flu vaccinations. The program started in 2004 with just the elementary schools participating. By 2009, the program had expanded to all students in all schools in the county. Now, the program offers influenza vaccination to the staff and their families as well.
Each year, the program planning starts early to ensure enough time to distribute forms, verify eligibility, receive parental permission and order vaccine. The immunization program takes place during flu season each year, which starts in September and runs through March.
The relationship between the Board of County Commissioners, the schools, the Board of Health, and the Brunswick County Health Department staff is still on-going, with plans for next year already being discussed. This project has received national recognition from MedImmune, the makers of FluMist, and an Award in Excellence in Adolescent Immunization from Merck. The health department continues to partner with both companies.