Don’t put off shots for school

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It’s time to face the needle.

Few things can ruin a child’s perfect summer faster than the thought of having to get school immunizations, but the new school year is upon us. Getting the pesky shots required by the Texas Department of State Health Services is a crucial ingredient for keeping us all healthy.

Area residents will want to make appointments with their health care providers soon to get advice and take care of the requirements. To view a complete list of school immunizations required by the Texas Department of State Health Services, visit http://bit.ly/1op6MI6.

Parents should consult with their pediatrician or family practitioner as soon as possible to make sure their children have the proper immunizations, said Sarah McKinney, spokeswoman for the Denton County Health Department. Federal rules prohibit the county health department from giving vaccines to children whose private insurance fully covers the shots, she said.

In addition to dealing with crying kids, families can also expect longer wait times for immunizations at local health clinics, officials said.

Currently, the wait is not too bad for school shots at the Denton County Health Department clinics, McKinney told us, but it’s going to get busier fast. Staff members will do their best to get 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.

This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., staff members from Health Services of North Texas will be at Rayzor Ranch Marketplace to answer immunization questions and schedule appointments for families, said Teri Johnson, community outreach director for the nonprofit health center.

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.

Johnson encourages families to call ahead to schedule an appointment or book appointments online at www.healthntx.org.

The county health department and Health Services both report they have ample supplies for administering childhood vaccines.

McKinney and Johnson emphasized the importance of bringing an up-to-date copy of each child’s shot records. 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.

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.

School immunizations may be an unpleasant hurdle for area youngsters to clear before they can go back to class, but the sooner parents take care of the requirements, the better for everyone.

Putting off the shots won’t make the experience any easier or convenient.


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