As days inch closer to the bell ringing on a new school year, families can expect longer wait times for back-to-school immunizations, according to officials at local health clinics.
Currently, the wait is “not too bad” for school shots at the Denton County Health Department clinics, said Sarah McKinney, department spokeswoman. The uptick in back-to-school immunizations at county clinics began about two weeks ago, “and it’s only going to get busier,” she said.
She suggests that families waiting to take care of childhood immunizations the week before school starts bring a book or something to keep children entertained because they can expect a wait.
“We have all hands on deck. That’s our approach,” McKinney said. “We’re doing our best to get them through the lines as quickly as possible.”
County health clinics in Denton and Lewisville are open from 7 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays.
It’s recommended that families who have a health care provider have that individual administer their immunizations, McKinney said. Federal rules prohibit the county health department from giving vaccines to children whose private insurance fully covers the shots, she said.
To view a complete list of school immunizations required by the Texas Department of State Health Services, visit http://bit.ly/1op6MI6.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, staff from Health Services of North Texas will be at Rayzor Ranch Marketplace answering immunization questions and scheduling appointments for families, said Teri Johnson, community outreach director for the nonprofit health center.
Health Services will be there as part of a back-to-school giveaway event that will include school supplies, snack samples, free and discounted haircuts, free coupons for sports physicals, health education information and other offers.
Johnson said Health Services of North Texas in Denton is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to see families for back-to-school immunizations by appointment. The office will also see families by appointment on Saturday and Aug. 16, she said.
Along with the shots, the clinic prefers to do a “complete well visit” for children, and “depending on where a family falls in the sliding-fee scale, they will pay a co-pay based on income and family size for that well visit,” Johnson said.
This summer, the clinic has seen fewer than 20 children, she said. There’s been a “steady stream” of calls for immunizations, and traffic for shots is expected to pick up in the next couple weeks, Johnson said. She encourages families to call ahead to schedule an appointment or book appointments online at www.healthntx.org.
“Our wait times usually are less than 20 minutes,” Johnson said. “We don’t anticipate that our patients will have to wait long at all.”
The county health department and Health Services report they both have ample supply for administering childhood vaccines.
Both McKinney and Johnson emphasized the importance of bringing an up-to-date copy of the child’s shot records when arriving for an immunization visit. The records are required before shots are given, they said.
Immunizations are free at Health Services of North Texas for children without insurance and for those who have health coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Children’s Medicaid, Johnson said. Those with insurance may incur a charge, she said.
McKinney said the county health department offers immunizations for children from infancy to age 18 who have CHIP, Children’s Medicaid, no insurance, or private insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines. The county health department does not accept credit/debit cards or checks. Vaccines cost $10 each, up to $30 per child, for those paying cash, she said.
“We never turn away a family with an inability to pay,” McKinney said.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.
The following Denton County locations offer back-to-school immunizations, although families with a health care provider should get immunizations through their care provider. Locations marked with an asterisk also offer adult vaccines.
Denton County Health Department Denton office*, 535 S. Loop 288, Suite 1003, 940-349-2900
Denton County Health Department Lewisville office*, 190 N. Valley Parkway, Lewisville, 972-434-4700
Health Services of North Texas*, 4310 Mesa Drive, Denton, 940-387-5788
North Texas Cares*, 8785 McKinney Road, Suite 102, Frisco, 214-705-8200
PediPlace, 502 S. Old Orchard Lane, Lewisville, 972-436-7962
Denton Community Health Clinic, 525 S. Locust St., Denton, 940-600-7527
First Refuge Ministries Medical Clinic, 1701 Broadway St., Denton, 940-222-4178
SOURCE: Denton County Health Department