School System Partnering with Health Department to Offer Flu Vaccines for Students

August 9, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dee Anna Reynolds

The DeKalb County School system is partnering with the local health department to offer flu vaccines to students this fall.

" We want parents to be looking for those papers to come home September 9 and we're going to start those flu clinics in the schools on the second of October," said Dee Anna Reynolds, Coordinated School Health Coordinator during Thursday night's school board meeting. "The health department will provide us with all the necessary forms and all the paperwork that the parents will have to fill out. It's completely optional. The parents choose whether or not they want the paperwork for those kids to have the flu vaccine. For most of those kids, it'll be the flu mist, which is a little better for the kids," she said.

Meanwhile, Optometry services will be available to students beginning this fall through Coordinated School Health and WellChild Screening Inc.

"Those forms are out with the parents. A lot of those have started coming in. That's our new program this year through Well Child, who in the past have done the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSD&T) exams. They're going to be offering vision services this year," said Reynolds. "The parents can pick and choose if they want to do the exams as well as the vision services or one or the other. For the children who qualify for that, they will be getting two pairs of glasses. One to keep at school and one to take home. We'll take up those (eye glasses) at the end of the year. Repair those and then those kids will have those again next year. It's a great service, but again that's optional for the parents. It's for kids that have TennCare or who are under insured," she said.

Reynolds explained during a school board meeting earlier this year that optometry is an expansion of a service that began in 2008 for DeKalb County Schools. "In the 2008-09 school year, Coordinated School Health began services with WellChild Inc to do Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) exams for students. Parents who were interested in the service and whose children qualified received WellChild exams on site at school through WellChild's mobile clinic. We have continued service with WellChild every year since then," said Reynolds.

WellChild Health Screening Inc. (WCHS) performs health screenings of students at school including vision, hearing, mental health, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, scoliosis, motor skills, etc.

Reynolds said these physicals have served hundreds of children in DeKalb County. " In the first year, 142 physicals were completed. For 2012-13, over 400 exams have been completed." she said. "In the five years we have implemented this service, one thing has remained constant and that is the number of vision referrals. Approximately 20-33 percent of students receive vision referrals every year either through WellChild services or Coordinated School Health screenings," said Reynolds.

"WellChild has offered mobile optometry services in Memphis only for the last few years and it has been a very successful service there so WellChild began looking at adding this service to the middle Tennessee area. Through a several month long process, WellChild has been able to secure the resources and optometrists who are willing to aid with this service. So, Coordinated School Health is pleased to announce WellChild will be adding the optometry service for DeKalb County beginning this fall," she said.

"Parents who fill out the paper work and want their child to receive a WellChild exam will now have an option to fill out an additional form for optometry services. Students who receive vision referrals will have further vision testing. If that child needs glasses, they will receive two pairs of glasses, one for school and one pair to take home and keep at home. At the end of the school year, Coordinated School Health will take the school pair of glasses and return to WellChild," said Reynolds. "WellChild will send those glasses to be checked for needed repairs and cleaning. The glasses will be returned to the student for the next school year. In addition to offering this optometry service through EPSDT exams, WellChild will be working with Coordinated School Health through their vision screening results to further test students who may need it," she said.

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