State gives Lapeer County a $50,000 grant

to bolster immunization rates


LAPEER COUNTY — With a sizeable financial boost from the state of Michigan, the Lapeer County Health Department is making plans for a flu vaccination blitz.

Starting this week, health department staff will offer flu shots and other vaccinations at school-based clinics across the county.

Locally, they’ll visit Weston Elementary School on Feb. 6, Almont High School on March 5 and be available at kindergarten round up events in Imlay City, Dryden and Almont later in March.

Toni LaRocco, nursing administrator for the
Lapeer County Health Department, said their goal is to make vaccinations more accessible to residents, especially for children.

A Vaccine Super Heroes clinic will be held at Weston Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 6. It’s one of ten school-based vaccine clinics the Lapeer County Health Department is hosting thanks to a state grant.

“We’re in the flu season full force. So far we’ve had 91 confirmed cases in January and of those, 38 cases are in teens and children under 18,” LaRocco said.

“Immunizations are the single biggest public health tool that prevents disease. ”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has given the county agency $50,000 to make these flu clinics possible. Lapeer County was offered this one-time funding because it has one of the lowest immunization rates in Michigan, health department officials said.

“If we can be more visible and make things more convenient for families we hope to increase those vaccination rates,” she said.

No one really likes getting a shot but LaRocco said they hope to make the clinics “at least a little fun” for attendees.

“We’ll be taking special backdrops with us to each clinic. For younger kids there will be a vaccine super hero theme. They can put on capes and masks and have their picture taken,” LaRocco said.

Older students can get in the spirit of
things with a ‘Show Your School Colors’ theme.

LaRocco stressed that students don’t need to attend that particular school to attend a clinic and adults are also welcome to update their immunizations at any of the clinics.

“These clinics are also an ideal way to avoid the ‘back to school’ rush that usually occurs too,” she noted.

The grant dollars don’t cover the cost of the flu vaccine but the health department will follow their usual protocol by billing a person’s insurance provider where applicable and using free public vaccines for those uninsured or underinsured.

In some cases, LaRocco said patients may be referred back to their primary doctor or pharmacy for the necessary vaccine. Flyers with a variety of resources will also be available at each clinic, she said.

Kathy Haskins, Lapeer County Health Department Director, said the grant monies originated from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and were then passed on to the state. Haskins said the state agency is technically subcontracting with Lapeer County for the services.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season.

Planned clinics in the Tri-City area include:

•Weston Elementary School in Imlay City on February 6 from 3:45-6:45 p.m.

•Almont High School on March 5 from 3-7 p.m.

•Imlay City Kindergarten Round Up at Weston Elementary on March 17 from 5-7 p.m.

•Dryden Kindergarten Round Up at Dryden Elementary School on March 18 from 5-7 p.m.

•Almont Kindergarten Round Up at Orchard Primary School on March 19 from 5-7 p.m.

For more information, contact the Lapeer County Health Department at 810-667-0448.