Hawaii just announced that beginning this fall it will offer free flu vaccinations to all elementary and intermediate school students, according to the Honolulu Advertiser. State superintendent Pat Hamamoto said she is recommending each of her principals to schedule a vaccination clinic. “Providing free and easy access to full vaccines for our students will mean fewer sick days and more quality time for classroom learning,” she said.

Nationally, 152 children in the United States died in the 2003-2004 flu season, many of whom were healthy and not in a high-risk group. At $2.5 million, such a program cannot be easily replicated in other school systems. However, there are still steps schools can take to prevent the spread of the illness once flu season begins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a variety of sources for schools at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/school.

re: No More Sniffles

I think that it is wonderful that Hawaii can offer this service to their students. However, it would definitely be cost prohibitive in my home state (WV). It is time for other agencies and/or the federal government to step up and provide services for our children. Schools cannot be the cure for all ills. We are impacted by the physical, mental and dental health of our students and it is very difficult for many of our students' families to access adequate services in these areas.

re: No More Sniffles

I believe that each school could and should provide the vaccination clinic. While we should not be expected to cure all the ills of the world, surely we can offer this small service to children who would not be able to get these shots on their own.