“Extraordinary” Flu Outbreak Forces Middle Park School to Close for a Day

Photo credit: PDM/Wikimedia Commons

August 3rd was no ordinary day for Middle Park School as it was forced to close whilst its cleaning team complete their work disinfecting the school premises. The action was brought about by an extraordinary flu outbreak in the school which saw 182 students and 15 teachers down with Influenza.

Additionally, students with influenza-like symptoms were advised to stay at home until the symptoms had dissipated.

Photo credit: MiddleParkSS/Facebook

Students With Influenza-Like Symptoms Advised to Stay Home

In her letter to the parents, Middle Park State School Principal Anne Kitchin explained that the school’s action was based on the recent outbreak of Influenza A and B in the school. “The Health Department has stressed the importance of keeping students home who have any influenza-like symptoms and their absence should continue until they have no influenza-like symptoms,” Principal Kitchin said.

She further added that the symptoms usually take five to seven days before they are gone but can be longer. “We urge parents to keep all students home tomorrow, Friday, 3 August. In response to the situation, we will have a cleaning team here to run additional shifts. If you are unable to provide care for your child there will be a small skeleton staff here,” she advised.

Government Influenza Vaccine Program

This year, the Queensland Health Department launched a free influenza vaccine program for children aged 6 months to less than 5 years.

“The initiative will expand on current program offered through the National Immunisation Program,” the Queensland Health Department stated on their website.

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The Health Department further explained that children are at a high risk of contracting influenza and they contribute greatly to the spread of the disease in the community. Vaccination also protects the wider community through the reduction of circulating influenza strains.

About the School Immunisation Program (SIP)

Queensland’s School Immunisation Program provides free vaccinations for a range of diseases  to Year 7 and Year 10 children through all the state and non-state secondary schools. The vaccines are available for free to registered providers that are implementing the immunisations.

Year 7 students who will miss any doses of vaccine at school may still receive their missing doses up to the end of the following year. After the specified time frame, vaccinations that were not completed will need to be purchased with a private prescription.

Additionally, adolescents not attending school and who would have normally been in Year 7 are also eligible for the vaccinations recommended by the National Immunisation Program Schedule.

It is important to note that to be entitled to the government’s Child Care Subsidy, your child must be immunized according to the NIP schedule. Should there be a missed vaccination shot, your child must be placed on a recognized and recorded in a catch-up schedule to still be entitled to the child care subsidy.

2018 Influenza Vaccination

Influenza vaccines are generally funded by the state and national influenza programs. The influenza programs aim to immunize all children from 6 months to less than 5 years of age.

Other individuals included in the program:

  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that are 15 years and younger.
  • Individuals 6 months of age and older, with medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza.
  • 65 years and older individuals.

Further information about the influenza vaccination guidelines can be found at the Queensland Health Department website.