Back-to-School List Should Include Vaccinations

Parkland health centers offer immunizations on ‘Walk-in Wednesdays’

In about a month, students throughout Dallas County will be headed back to school and as summer break nears its end, pediatricians recommend that parents include their children’s immunizations on their back-to-school to-do lists.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children to one of Parkland Health & Hospital System’s Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) health centers or Youth & Family centers located throughout Dallas County. Once again, Parkland COPCs are offering convenient immunizations on “Walk-in Wednesdays.”

“Parents can bring their children for immunizations on Wednesdays without having to make an appointment. We encourage parents to do so because vaccines are a vital part of your child’s health,” said Barbara Durso, MD, lead staff physician at Parkland’s Oak West Health Center. “When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can put others in danger by spreading diseases in their classrooms and community.”

Before entering kindergarten, children in Texas are required to have been vaccinated for Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis; Polio; Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); Hepatitis B; Varicella; and Hepatitis A. Children in daycare must also be vaccinated. For older students, a Diphtheria/ Tetanus/Pertussis booster and Meningococcal vaccines are required for school.

In 2017, 94 cases of mumps were reported in Dallas County schools. “Viral diseases like mumps are spread by droplets of saliva or mucus of an infected person, usually by someone’s coughs or sneezes or by sharing food and drink. That’s why vaccination and proper hand-washing are so important to prevent the spread of such diseases,” Dr. Durso said.

Although vaccines are often thought of as something for young children, preteens and teens also need immunizations to stay healthy throughout the school year. “Vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including meningitis and cancers caused by HPV infections,” Dr. Durso said.

Immunizations during Walk-in-Wednesdays will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parents can still walk-in with their children for vaccinations on other days, but appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment for your child at a Parkland COPC health center, please call 214-266-4000. To schedule an appointment at a Youth & Family Center, please call 214-266-1257.

Parkland accepts Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and most major insurance plans. If you do not have insurance, Parkland can provide financial screening to determine if patients qualify for financial assistance. In addition, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program may be able to help. The VFC program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger, who are not insured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian or Alaska Native.

“Vaccines keep children healthy by preventing disease. When children are healthy they miss fewer days of school and parents miss fewer days of work,” Dr. Durso emphasized. “When children are healthy, parents and children win.”

To find the Parkland COPC health center nearest you, please visit www.parklandhospital. com. For more information on the VCF program visit www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram/