Does your child’s school have a school-based health center? With more than 1,900 centers located on school grounds nationwide, chances are pretty good it does. School-based health centers are a great community resource, providing easy access to health services and information. More than 2 million kids and teens visit such centers each year.
School-based health centers are also a resource during health emergencies such as disease outbreaks. In 2009, when there was an outbreak of H1N1 flu that was making many Americans sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccines be provided on school campuses as a way to reach more kids quickly. The recommendation worked! Many school-based health centers that already provided routine flu vaccinations were easily able to give federally subsidized vaccines to students. In states like Maryland and Alabama, school-based health centers helped distribute vaccines to area schools. With their link to kids and teens, school-based health centers were able to help students stay healthy and not miss classes.
School-based health centers can also play a role in preparing for natural disasters. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that schools develop plans that spell out what to do in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency. Having a school-based health center work hand-in-hand with school staff to design and help launch an emergency plan can benefit students, schools and the community.
This year on Get Ready Day, Sept. 20, APHA’s Get Ready campaign encourag school-based health centers to hold Get Ready events. In fact, the school-based health center that has the best activity can win $500 from Get Ready. Now’s the time to start planning your event!
To learn more about school-based health centers, check out APHA’s Center for School, Health and Education or the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.