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School-Located Vaccination (SLV): Information for Planners

Background, Vaccination Guidelines

Background

Recommendations for influenza vaccination have gradually broadened over the last decade. Vaccination of school-aged children has been recommended since 2008. In 2010, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that all people 6 months of age and older receive an influenza vaccine.

Private providers (e.g., pediatricians) are the primary vaccinators of choice for school-aged children. However, children of this age infrequently access health care for preventive, non-acute care, and because vaccinating many children in a short period of time is essential during influenza vaccination season, other vaccination venues may be considered as well (Rand, 2008; Rand, 2007). SLV has been widely discussed as a potentially viable option for vaccinating many school-aged children against influenza in a short period of time.

There are benefits to holding influenza SLV clinics:

  • Large numbers of children are found in schools
  • Schools are conveniently located throughout communities
  • Communities are generally familiar with and trust schools
  • School facilities can generally accommodate mass vaccination clinics (e.g., the availability of gymnasiums and auditoriums, ample parking in some locations)
  • School nurses, if present, may be available to assist in vaccination activities and may be familiar with the health of individual students
  • School staff have access to parental contact information, which could facilitate communications (e.g., for announcing clinic dates, obtaining parental consent for vaccination)
  • Others prioritized for vaccination besides enrolled students may request vaccination at vaccination events

There are potential challenges to holding influenza SLV clinics:

  • Securing funding or a source of reimbursement to pay staff, purchase vaccine and supplies, and other needs is often challenging
  • Locating adequate staff to prepare for and conduct the clinic may be difficult
  • Clinics could disrupt educational activities
  • Immunization activities may need to be tailored to each school or school district, complicating planning efforts
  • Handling and transporting the vaccine to many and varied locations requires considerable planning, equipment, and training
  • The date of influenza vaccine availability varies from year to year, complicating planning efforts.

Many schools and public health departments have conducted SLV clinics in the past, for influenza vaccination and other vaccines, but many have not. The information below, as well as the links to guidance developed by other groups (e.g., the National Association of County and City Health Officials [NACCHO] School-located Influenza Immunization School Kit), has been designed primarily to help inexperienced but interested public health departments, schools/school districts, and others conduct successful influenza SLV clinics.

The following information, for the most part, assumes that the public health department will be leading the influenza SLV effort. The information provided focuses on clinics occurring during school hours without parents present because of the many unique challenges associated with that scenario. For planners who are considering the school as a potential venue to offer vaccines primarily to non-students, general guidelines for setting up large-scale vaccination clinics are posted on the CDC influenza website.

Vaccination Guidelines

The most up to date influenza vaccination recommendations should be followed when implementing influenza SLV clinics. CDC’s ACIP provides annual recommendations for the prevention and control of influenza with vaccines.

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