JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A deadly flu season in Florida has doctors worried and urging leaders to take action.
"At Shands Hospital in Gainesville, we've had 13 deaths from influenza," said expert Dr. Parker Small.
At least 12 of them did not get a flu shot, according to Small, who's been studying this disease for decades at the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute. He said Florida has the lowest immunization rate in the nation and Small is now leading the charge on getting some of our most vulnerable victims vaccinated.
"If you immunize 20 percent of the kids, you actually protect those over 65 better than immunizing the elderly," he said.
Action News has learned that Small and the surgeon general have plans to implement a statewide program in the school system, that would give all students in grades K-12, a flu shot at school. This is only if their parents want them to have it.
"I would never allow my grandchildren to have a flu shot," said one grandfather.
"I think it will be a great program as far as not having to take time off work and taking your child to get a flu shot," said mother Charlene Allen.
It won't come cheap. The projected start-up cost is less than $10 million a year, for the first three years. We're told that money would pay for evaluation and training for the program.
"We truly expect the program to save in excess of half a billion dollars a year," said Small.
Another payment option for the program is billing families' insurance companies for the shots. Small said that's something they'll consider when they map out a final plan.