About 100 students lined up for flu shots recently at the Marie Hughes Elementary School gym, joining an estimated 20,000 children statewide expected to get vaccinated at school clinics this fall.
Most kids put on a brave face as nursing students from Central New Mexico Community College administered the flu shots.
“Even the little tiny kids who you would expect to be terrified, they take it in stride,” CNM nursing student Brenda Garcia said of her young patients, who ranged from kindergartners to fifth-graders.
Marie Hughes is one of 359 schools statewide expected to host flu shot clinics this year, offered through the School Kids Influenza Immunization Program, or SKIIP, a state and federally funded program. It is one of 70 Albuquerque Public Schools expected to sponsor the clinics.
Immunizing children helps keeps the entire population healthy because data show that flu outbreaks begin in schools, said Anna Pentler, executive director of the New Mexico Immunization Coalition, which oversees the SKIIP program.
“Absenteeism in schools peaks about two weeks before (flu activity) peaks in the community,” Pentler said. “We know it is spreading from kids to the community.”