The future of Knox County's annual in-school flu vaccination program is in jeopardy, due to funding changes.
The Knox County Health Department has provided free flu mist vaccines in schools for the past seven years, thanks to grants and state and federal funding. Now, most of that money has been cut, leaving the health department looking for financial support to continue the program.
It will continue this year, but the future is uncertain without assistance. So health officials are asking the community to help underwrite the costs. They say vaccinating children against the flu helps everyone.
"The logic behind vaccinating kids is really, kids take it home and share it. It's that simple. They share it with each other and then they go home and share it with everybody else. Kids are really good at sharing and they're not really good at handwashing, so because of that they tend to share the flu with other people. So this keeps mom and dad healthy, it keeps grandma healthy, it keeps the newborn baby who can't even get the flu shot yet, healthy. So it benefits the entire community," said Dr. Martha Buchanan of the Knox County Health Department.
This year parental consent forms will include a line asking parents for insurance information to help offset the costs to the health department. There will also be an option to donate toward covering the vaccination costs of a child without insurance. Each vaccine costs about $15 dollars per child