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School vaccination program protects students and families

Investigators evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of a school-based influenza immunization program in an unblinded pilot study conducted in Maryland. Vaccination with a live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine (FluMist) was offered to healthy students in one elementary school but not in two control schools. Investigators then compared health outcomes in the households of students in the intervention school with those in households of students in the two elementary schools where the vaccine was not offered.

Approximately 40% (185) of students in the intervention school received the offered vaccine; more than half of those who accepted the offer were vaccinated three weeks or less before the outbreak of influenza. Students in the intervention school, and the people with whom they lived, had fewer medical visits, purchased fewer medications, and missed fewer workdays and school days than students in the control schools and members of their households.

In addition, within the intervention school, the increase in the rate of absenteeism during the outbreak was significantly smaller for students who were vaccinated with the study vaccine than for the students who were not (King JC et al: Pediatrics 2005;116:e868).