Seymour Community School Corp. to bring vaccines to students

It has been a bad year for the flu among students and teachers of Seymour Community School Corp., a school health official said.

Absenteeism has been high as the virus made its rounds causing fevers, chills, body aches, coughing, runny noses, headaches and fatigue.

Missing school due to illness can lead students to fall behind in their classwork and struggle to catch up, said Sherry Reinhart, director of health services for SCSC.

Last month, Reinhart recommended the school board partner with New York-based CareDox to bring its Healthy Schools flu and adolescent immunizations program to the schools. The board was scheduled to vote on the contract at a meeting Tuesday night.

“This is something we can do as a school corporation to improve the health and wellness of our students, staff and our community,” she said.

The service, available at no cost to the school corporation and to families, promotes a healthier school environment, helps increase attendance and provides families with access to vaccines and immunizations to prevent illnesses, Reinhart said.

“Some of our families have barriers to getting their child the needed immunizations, and we would like to assist with their access to the health care services needed,” she said. “One way to do this would be to offer flu vaccines and immunizations in the school setting.”

The program works by offering the flu vaccine in the fall and other vaccines in the spring. All students will have the opportunity to receive the vaccinations.

“(CareDox) will actually come into our schools and administer the flu vaccine and other vaccines, such as hepatitis A,” she said.

Students with private insurance, Medicaid, CHIP or no insurance can participate. Parents will be notified before the clinics are scheduled, and a permission form will need to be completed by the parent. Participation is not mandatory but is encouraged, Reinhart said.

“It is very important that students keep up to date on their vaccinations,” she said. “Vaccine preventable diseases can cause serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, viral meningitis, bacterial skin infections and death.”

In 2016, there were 209 cases of varicella (chicken pox) and eight reported cases of meningitis in Indiana in children under the age of 18 along with outbreaks of the mumps at four universities, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

So far in 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 465 cases of measles in 19 states, including Indiana.

All are preventable through vaccinations, Reinhart said.

The Seymour school system has been lucky because it has had no reported cases of these preventable diseases in the past decade, she said.

“We would like to keep it that way,” she said.

Influenza, on the other hand, is always a concern, Reinhart added.

There were many reported and unreported cases of the flu in Indiana and in Seymour, which caused numerous student absences and parents to miss days of work, she said.

Reinhart said there also is a concern with the increasing number of students coming from different countries who may not be vaccinated.

School health officials continue to advocate for students to receive vaccinations and immunizations before the beginning of the school year.

The district has a very small number of students who do not get vaccinated due to religious beliefs or medical objections, Reinhart said.

If a parent does not want their child immunized with the required vaccinations, a form will need to be completed citing a religious or medical objection and kept on file in the school nurse’s office. This form needs to be updated yearly, Reinhart said. The medical objection will need to be completed by a child’s physician.

Reinhart said she spoke with school nurses at Fort Wayne Community Schools and Warsaw Community Schools, both of which have seen success with the CareDox program.

Any parent who has concerns regarding vaccines and immunizations may contact the school and request to speak with the school nurse.