Central District Health Department (CDHD) is offering no-cost flu vaccinations to approximately 10,000 students in preschool through 12th grade – nearly one-fifth of the Grand Island population – in collaboration with Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS), Heartland Health Center (HHC) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).

“Because Grand Island has been hit hard by COVID-19 and cases are rapidly increasing, it is crucial that we take action to prevent a COVID-19/influenza ‘twindemic’ that would further strain our people’s health and health care facilities’ resources,” said Teresa Anderson, CDHD Health Director. “Providing the vaccine to school-aged children, who can easily transmit viruses and take them home to parents and grandparents, will greatly reduce the impact of the flu on our community this season.”

Clinics are scheduled to be held at 19 GIPS elementary, middle and high school buildings and early childhood centers during the school day, from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6. Families have been asked to register their children and return consent forms distributed through GIPS by Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Vaccines will be provided at no cost by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) through the Vaccine for Children program. BCBSNE is helping CDHD cover the cost of wages for nurses who will administer the vaccinations.

“We’re here for the health and well-being of all Nebraskans and, right now, it’s especially important that we help protect the Grand Island community from both the flu and COVID-19,” said Steve Grandfield, president and CEO of BCBSNE. “We are grateful for CDHD’s leadership in this effort and for the frontline health care workers who are stepping up.”

HHC, a federally qualified health center that provides medical, dental and behavioral care, will help supplement nursing staff for the clinics.

“It is difficult to find enough nurses to give this large number of shots. We are very grateful for HHC’s ongoing partnership and commitment in our community’s health,” said Anderson.

CDHD has a sophisticated process for delivering flu shots, including new tagging technology to scan each dose of DHHS-provided vaccine directly into the Nebraska State Immunization Information System. Coordination and operation of these flu shot clinics serves as a learning process that will be applied to COVID-19 vaccination mass clinics once that vaccine becomes available. Upon completion of this initiative, CDHD will reach out to other Central Nebraska schools to offer school-based flu shot clinics.

In addition to these clinics for children and teens, CDHD is holding no-cost, drive-thru flu vaccination clinics that are open to the public at 1137 South Locust from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 2 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. CDHD is covering the costs for anyone who is uninsured.

CDHD is also offering COVID-19 testing for the central Nebraska community through TestNebraska on Monday afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m., and Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at 1137 S. Locust St. in Grand Island. Testing is also available on Wednesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. at 1704 L. St. in Aurora, NE.

This work CDHD is doing to make critical health resources widely accessible and affordable is particularly valuable for the people of Grand Island. In Hall County, 13% of residents live in poverty, compared with 9.9% at the state level, and 12.1% are uninsured, compared with 9.8% at the state level.

About Central District Health Department
CDHD serves the 78,000 citizens in Hall, Hamilton, and Merrick counties in Nebraska. Its mission is to protect and improve the health and well-being of the community. Learn more at cdhd.ne.gov.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Through births and broken bones, tests and treatments, trauma and triumphs, BCBSNE is there with you. Since 1939, we have ensured coverage for the care you need, access to the providers you trust and support from a team that’s right here in Nebraska. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, BCBSNE represents the nation’s most experienced health insurance brands that collectively cover one in three Americans. Learn more at NebraskaBlue.com.