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What parents should know about immunizations before school starts

Posted at 5:23 AM, Aug 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-07 18:54:26-04

School starts in a matter of days for area students and besides the school supplies and clothes, they may also need shots before they head to class.

RELATED: More Back to School news

The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County sees long lines every year as parents rush to get their kids vaccinated before the school year begins.

Immunization program manager Deborah Hogan calls it the "immunization crunch."

 

"They aren't thinking about it when kids get out of school, even thought the school district sent out a letter telling everybody if your child is 11 or 12 they need to get their shots.  Seventh grade and certainly kindergarteners, once they reach age 4, 5, or 6, they can get their vaccine booster and get ready for kindergarten," said Hogan.

Students going into kindergarten and seventh grade need physicals and must have the required shots and paperwork or they can't walk into the classroom on the first day of school.

If you are new to the school district, you will need proof of those shots as well.

Hogan says, "on the first day of school, you may be delayed for your child starting because of the need to get that 680 document for the vaccines."

She says you also need to pay attention to the requirements for the chicken pox vaccine, which is a little different this year.

"If you are kindergarten through ninth grade this year, you need two chicken pox shots, two varicella vaccines to attend school, so there are changes and updates for that. We've been giving that all along. When we see the kids, we'll say you need a second one, it's going to be required, and what we're seeing is many kids are already OK with that because its the recommendation from CDC."

The health department primarily serves families without insurance at no cost. Hogan says, "for the families that are uninsured or Medicaid, we see those families. They would be eligible."

She adds, "If they can't see their primary care doctor, if they have no appointments and they need the vaccines, we can help at least giving them the required vaccines for school."

You can also visit select urgent care centers if that is covered by your insurance.

They encourage you to make an appointment and head out to the health department as soon as possible so you don't have to wait in long lines.

Hogan says, "Immunizations save lives, we know that. The children can be protected against 14 different diseases. They never have to suffer the effects of it. They are safe and effective and are able to keep the preventable disease numbers down."

She says, "We do have one exemption in Florida and that is the religious exemption, families would need, parents would need to come to the health department to request that religious exemption for their child to attend school."

Some children can also be exempt for medical reasons.

The immunization van will have special Saturday hours on Aug. 12 if you still need your shots.