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Free flu vaccines to be offered to all Harford public school students

All Harford County Public Schools students will be able to receive a free flu shot vaccine this year during the school day.

The school system is teaming up with Maryland Partners for Prevention to provide the vaccine the week of Oct. 1-4.

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The vaccines are being provided a no cost to the school system, Mary Nasuta, supervisor of health services, said.

“It’s always our plan to make sure we have parity over all the kids, not just those that can pay, or have insurance,” Nasuta said. “It’s no cost to us or to the families.”

Harford County Public Schools and other school systems in Maryland stopped providing the flu vaccine as a nasal sprayafter the 2016 school year because of concerns over whether the mist was effective, she said.

The mist couldn’t be given to children with asthma or chronic illness, and “we found that the kids we most wanted to cover, we couldn’t,” Nasuta said.

During the last school year, flu shots were given to students at Title 1 schools.

“This year we wanted to make sure everyone was covered,” Nasuta said.

“We’re glad to be able to provide the vaccines at school,” she said, “because we know how hard it is, trying to do a million other things, it’s difficult to get to the pediatrician or clinic or wherever.”

Maryland Partners for Prevention provides flu vaccinations to schools in eight counties, Executive Director Tiffany Tate said.

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“The flu kills tens of thousands of people every year. Flu shots work, they save people from missing time from work and school," Tate said. “That partnership that will allow Harford County to reinstate its clinic, that’s something we think we’re here for. Our mission is to make sure we’re protected from preventable diseases, and anyone who wants to be protected from the flu, can be protected from the flu regardless of ability to pay.”

Nasuta said she’s not sure how many students will take advantage of the free vaccinations.

Howard County was about 30 percent in its first year, and Nasuta doesn’t anticipate Harford’s will be that high, though she has been pleased with the response so far based on the 500 forms that had been returned by Thursday morning since they went out Monday.

The consent forms must be completed and returned by Sept. 25 to participate. Parents can also complete the form electronically through the link included in the letter, available on the HCPS website by visiting the Parent and then Health Center page.

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