With the flu season around the corner, the Howard County Public School System is preparing for its annual free flu vaccination clinics at all 77 schools.

Annually, the flu season begins in October and can last as long as through May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With each flu season, the length, timing and severity varies.

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Flu shots will be offered in all Howard schools by the nonprofit Maryland Partnership for Prevention and the school system between Oct. 11 and Oct. 30. Each school is assigned a date for its clinic, with between six and 10 schools offering the vaccines each day.

The flu shots are funded by the Vaccine For Children, a federally funded program that provides free vaccinations for children, and by health insurance companies contributions, according to Brian Bassett, a schools spokesman.

Last year, approximately 12,000 vaccines were administered between students and school staff, Bassett said.

No child, regardless of if their family has health insurance or not, is turned away from receiving a flu shot. As long as the student has permission from their parent or guardian, they can receive a flu shot.

Consent forms are due at each student’s school by Friday. The forms can either be printed out from the school system’s website or parents can complete an online form. The online form is available in both English and Spanish.

Flu vaccinations are not mandatory for students to attend Howard schools.

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