CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has received national recognition for its vaccine program in schools.The program received a Model Practice Award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials.Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the health department, said in a news release that he is honored to receive one of the highest awards for local health departments.The program started in response to the 2009 H1N1 "swine flu" outbreak, Gupta said.
"We needed to get children vaccinated as soon as possible and we were able to do that by going into schools and offering vaccinations," Gupta said in the statement. "As the pandemic ended, we began looking for opportunities to build on the momentum of the H1N1 response."Since 2009, we have extended the program each year during our flu vaccination campaign and today we go into more than 80 public and private schools in the county to administer season flu vaccinations to thousands of students."The department does not receive federal, state or local funding for the vaccination clinics, and health officials request insurance information from parents for costs. Still, students are not turned away because of inability to pay or for a lack of insurance, he said.