Health Departments' Back-To-School Immunization Contest Sees Success

Wednesday, August 10th 2016, 10:40 pm
By: News On 6

On one of his last few precious summer afternoons left, 12-year-old Shayden McClure is at the Rogers County Health Department. He's getting something important.

"My TDAP shot," explains Shayden. "Whatever that is."

Clearly, the seventh-grader is very excited about it.

"Nah," Shayden said, "I'm just ready to get it done and over."

Health department leaders know most kids are like Shayden when it comes to getting back-to-school shots — not that enthused.

A state health department study estimates 550 Oklahoma families are not vaccinating their children. The law exempts parents and guardians who have philosophical or religious beliefs contrary to vaccination.

But some families either forget to vaccinate or don't have the time; so, Larry Bergner and his staff changed the immunization experience from a chore to a contest.

"The hope is that this will incentivize parents to bring their kids to the health department to get those back-to-school immunizations, and make it a fun process as we do it," said Bergner, the regional director for Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Osage and Wagoner counties' health departments.

The health departments started the contest last year - any student who came in for immunizations, or showed the staff an up-to-date vaccine record, was entered into a drawing for prizes.

Last year, it was OU and OSU memorabilia. This year, the prizes are Thunder-themed: cups, mousepads, framed photos, flags, towels, even a basketball hoop.

"It gives the kids something exciting to look forward to, rather than, 'I'm going to the health department to get a shot,'" Bergner explained.

He said the contest is working.

Last year, the immunization rate for Rogers and Washington Counties' health departments was up 151 percent from the year before. And, Bergner said, this year's Rogers County immunization numbers have already surpassed that.

"As we look in the future, our children are our future, and we want to keep them healthy," Bergner said. "So, anything we can do to help to boost those immunization rates and reduce illness in the community, it's always good for everybody."

The drawing for the prizes will be held on September 1. Winners do not need to be present.

Oklahoma State Health Department guide for this year's immunizations.