Arkansas school-based vaccination clinics

Filed Under

In March, the Arkansas state and county health departments began working with the state and local school districts to plan to provide seasonal flu vaccine in the schools in the fall. As part of the Governor's Healthcare Initiative, the Department of Health's appropriation was increased, mostly due to the tobacco tax proceeds, to help fund this activity. In August, after finding out that the H1N1 vaccine would be available, officials shifted planning to accommodate administration of both vaccines. As of November 25th, the state has administered 113,268 doses of H1N1 vaccine and 144,716 doses of the seasonal vaccine in 1053 public and private schools. Officials are working closely with school nurses, school administrators, and the community. Some districts initially declined to participate. However, 98 percent of school districts have agreed to collaborate with the state, thanks in large part to the governor, who urged them to consider the initiative. The state still has 132 public and private schools scheduled and more private schools are requesting a clinic daily.

Some challenges have had to do with the logistical problems of administering both vaccines at the same time. Staff and volunteers have had to make sure that all of the appropriate forms are available and that the consent matches the vaccine administered. Receiving several new products in the middle of this activity has caused some training issues.

The greatest problem has been that the state did not have enough H1N1 vaccine. It responded to this problem by prioritizing the youngest children first and staff last, which caused some tension. Moreover, some schools did not want to administer LAIV. Luckily public health officials were able to convince most of them to do so. In addition, some larger schools opted to do regional clinics, which resulted in all of the challenges associated with mass-vaccination efforts. Volunteers were readily available, although many did not attend the pre-clinic training which resulted in delays on-site. A small problem was that media often arrived unannounced to film and interview people.

Lessons learned included: the school nurse is our best friend; always work closely with the principals; work to avoid individual schools making poor decisions; always appoint one designated person who has no other job than to control the clinic flow and direct other activities (in a larger school this might require two people); always double-check permission forms to make sure the right vaccine is being administered; carefully review health histories; track lot numbers; identify staff with nametags or t-shirts; and train volunteers on patient flow as well as the vaccine itself.

Find Practices

Newsletter Sign-up

Get CIDRAP news and other free newsletters.

Sign up now»

OUR UNDERWRITERS

Unrestricted financial support provided by

Bentson Foundation 3MGilead Become an underwriter»