As Tulsa public school students begin their first full week of classes, health officials remind us those new clothes and school supplies shouldn't be the only things on that back-to-school list. Immunizations are a necessity, too. However, thousands of students have returned to school without them.
School administrators are trying to determine just how many children don't have the shots they need. According to state and federal law, students not properly immunized can't stay in school. That's why a new program called Vaccines for Children has stepped in. The program is designed to make getting the shots easy on parents and kids.
School health officials estimate thousands of children in the Tulsa public schools district still need certain immunizations. Parents often fail to get them, citing a lack of transportation, information or funds. Vaccines for Children will provide the shots for free at all 81 elementary, middle and high schools.
Students can receive the hepatitis a and b series of shots. Also available is the shot for measles, mumps and rubella, the oral polio vaccine and the d-p-t vaccine.
Students must qualify to receive the free shots. "They can not have other private insurance that actually pays for immunization coverage," said Pam Butler, director of health services. "If they are on Medicaid or they have an insurance coverage that immunizations are excluded, then they would be able to qualify for this program."
School administrators say the program eliminates any reasons why parents can't get the shots and helps reduce the rate of disease across the country. The program also gives every student a chance at a healthy school year. "Our kids are healthier. They don't miss school days," said Butler. "And so the learning process can be enhanced when you have a healthy child." The free immunizations begin August 30th.
For more information, call the school your child attends for more information.
Several Tulsa public schools are only providing immunizations by appointment, while others are taking walk-ins. Students attending other school districts who need free immunizations can still receive them from the Tulsa City-County health department.