Knox County (WVLT) - It is the largest and most successful FluMist vaccination program in the United States.
In the past two years, Knox County Schools have vaccinated more than 70,000 students and teachers.
WVLT's Jessa Goddard is covering East Tennessee Health with more on the nasal spray vaccine program, now entering its third year.
Second grader Macy Diehl says FluMist is no big deal.
"It just felt... it just felt a little bit weird," says Macy.
Macy has received three FluMist vaccinations in the past three years and she has never gotten the flu.
"It just goes up your nose, it doesn't hurt a bit," she says.
In the past two years, less than half the school population has chosen to receive FluMist.
"I wouldn't do it for my daughter, if I didn't feel it was safe, and I've heard the misconceptions, also," says Kimberly Diehl, Macy's mother.
FluMist is different than a flu shot, in that it's given as a nasal mist, containing three, live, viral flu strains, which have been weakened.
The flu shot, by contrast, is made using a killed virus.
"Most flu vaccinations that you're going to receive are going to be a multi-dose vial, which means there is a potentially Thimerosal," says Pediatrician Dr. Michael Green.
Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury.
Several scientific studies have tested whether exposure to Thimerosal raises a child's risk for autism, but Dr. Michael Green says there is no credible proof of a link.
"We have vaccinations that are going to have Thimerosal and certainly we need to discuss this with our patients. And if they have strong considerations, then certainly they may chose to do something like FluMist," says Dr. Green.
This year, Knox County officials hope to vaccinate 35,000 students and staff, or 70% of the school population.
They credit the program with keeping students healthy and schools open, while schools in neighboring counties closed last year due to the flu.
The first phase of the FluMist program began in Knox County Schools Monday and continues October 19.
You child will not receive a FluMist vaccine unless and until you return a consent form.
For more details on the 2007 School FluMist Vaccination Campaign, click on the link below.