LIHUE — The Hawaii State Department of Health’s annual Stop Flu at School program started Wednesday and will continue in more than 167 public schools statewide through Dec. 21.
The voluntary program administers free flu shots to Hawaii students in kindergarten through eighth grade who are enrolled at participating schools. About 35,000 students are expected to be vaccinated during the seven-week program.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older. Each year, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths in the United States.
“Vaccination is our best defense against the flu,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “Since flu can cause severe illness in people of all ages, we encourage everyone to talk to their doctor to learn more and get vaccinated.”
For those unable to be vaccinated through the Stop Flu at School program, flu vaccine is available through healthcare provider offices, clinics, and pharmacies.