ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Parents are concerned as thousands of New Mexico kids will not get the flu shot this year. The Department of Health has pulled a program that offered free flu shot clinics in public schools.
“It said that this year APS wasn’t going to be doing flu shot clinics. They sent an attachment with clinics that would be willing to give our kids flu shots,” said Valerie Kinsey.
Kinsey says she got an email from the school nurse at James Monroe Middle School about two weeks ago. As a nurse herself, she says the school should have warned parents sooner.
“We’ve been getting flu shots since the end of September,” Kinsey says.
The New Mexico Department of Health has already reported the first flu cases of the season. The CDC says it takes about two weeks after the vaccination to protect you from the flu.
“The flu has already hit,” says Kinsey.
The school only said they weren’t giving shots because of “funding issues with the Department of Health.” A department spokesperson said they had been providing the flu shot clinics through the School Kids Influenza Project, also known as SKIIP, to any school in the state that wanted to participate.
They say since an all-time high of 55,000 kids statewide getting the shot in 2009, it’s now down to less than 20,000. The state says they cut the program because of low participation and the feds cutting the funding each year.
“Cut something else. My kids are my number one priority, as with all parents,” says Kinsey.
Kinsey says the clinics at school were convenient, and she worries parents won’t go out of their way to take students to other clinics.
“I think they should’ve figured it out last year, with the upcoming year. They should plan it better so us parents can prepare for that,” she says.
Of the Albuquerque schools participating in SKIIP, more than 35,000 students had the chance to get the shot. During the 2018-2019 school year, only 4,700 of those students got it.
The Department of Health says they’re working on partnering with drug stores like Walgreens, Albertson’s, and Smith’s to provide on-campus flu clinics.