April 23, 2014
Austin (KXAN)
A new study out Wednesday shows there were 2.4 million absences from school last year in Central Texas, costing local districts a total of $91 million in lost revenue from the state.
The data shows that half of those absences were due to kids coming down with the flu.
That’s why a new pilot program is being announced that could impact most elementary school-aged children.
E3 Alliance, a data-driven education collaborative in Austin, is set to announce a pilot flu vaccination program at 56 elementary schools in five school districts.
The concern by doctors is that kids are not getting the flu shot and, as a result, are getting sick and missing several days of school a year.
Research from E3 Alliance shows many students do not get vaccinated because a parent has to take them to the doctor or a clinic to get the shot, maybe there is a lack of transportation, or the parent needs to be there.
Starting in October, the flu vaccine will be available in all elementary schools in Manor, Del Valle, Pflugerville, and Hays school districts — as well as eight pilot schools in the Austin Independent School District.
“What we’re trying to do is break down the barriers so flu immunizations can be available to all students in our 56 pilot schools at no cost to the districts and no cost to the families,” said Susan Dawson, E3 Alliance president.
E3 Alliance is hosting an information meeting on the program, as well as additional findings from their research, Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. at the St. David’s Medical Center off the frontage road of Interstate 35 in Central Austin.  It is free and open to the public.
During the pilot program, the flu vaccine will be optional for students.
One of the goals with the program is to determine if making the vaccine more easily accessible will have an impact on this upcoming flu season.
To view news report: New flu-vaccination program targets school attendance