SIKESTON -- School may have just gotten out for the summer, but before families get busy with vacations and summer sporting events, local health officials are encouraging parents to have their children immunized now instead of waiting for the rush when school starts in August.
"One reason we say June is because students are just getting out of school and still have their papers (from school nurses) saying they need the shots," noted Karen Evans, registered nurse at the Scott County Health Department. "Or if they just went for kindergarten enrollment, parents still know where all of their paperwork is."
Immunization clinics are offered on Tuesdays in June, July and August at the Scott County Health Department, but right now the clinics are less busy than they are in August, Evans noted. In fact, the nurses see three to four times the amount of children in August than they do in June or July.
"In June, the longest wait is about 30 minutes, but in August it could be double that -- about 45 minutes to an hour," Evans said. "The kids are getting the same shots in both months, but we only have so many nurses and can only do so many shots in a given time."
And unfortunately, most parents wait until the week before school starts to get the immunizations, Evans pointed out.
"Another reason it's important to get immunizations now is so the children don't associate getting a shot with going to school," Evans pointed out. "Especially if they're little like the kindergartners. We want the shots to be behind them when they start school."
Also, if school starts on a Thursday and they get their shots on Tuesday, children can run a fever or be sore from their immunizations, Evans said.
Parents must bring their children's shot records with them so health department officials can see if there is a need for the shots. And if a parent is unsure if their child needs a shot, they can bring the shot record to be checked by the health department staff.
"If parents can't find the shot records, contact the school or their doctor and get a shot record from them," Evans advised. "If anyone other than a parent will be bringing the child for the shots, they must have written permission from the parent."
Evans said: "The No. 1 importance of the shot is not just so the child can get into school, but we're giving vaccine to prevent diseases."
Immunization clinics are set for 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m. June 8, 15, 22 and 29 at the Scott County Health Center 102 Grove Estates Court in Sikeston and from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. June 9 at the Scott City office. For more information about the clinics, call 471-4044.