Preparing for the school year can be a pain.
That includes making sure children are up-to-date on required immunizations. Missouri requires every student to have certain vaccinations, such as Heptatitis B, the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, TDAP and more. See this guide for more details about which vaccines are due when: bit.ly/2u6Fx2w.
The Callaway County Health Department offers each of the required immunizations. Registered nurse Stephanie Woods said the department gets an influx of immunization-seekers in late July and August.
"The earlier you can come in, the better," she said. "Try not to wait until the last minute."
Fellow registered nurse Sherri Sommers encouraged making an appointment in advance. The health department typically does immunizations on Wednesday, she said.
"If someone has a hardship (and can't come Wednesday) we can work with them," she said.
She also suggested bringing each child's shot record. If that's unavailable, nurses may be able to look up the record on a state database, though not all physicians use it.
If a parent is truly unable to get a child in for a vaccination before school starts but has an upcoming appointment, the department may be able to provide the school with a note stating the child will be vaccinated soon so he or she doesn't have to miss days.
While children worry about the pinch in their arm, some parents are concerned about the pinch in their pocketbook. Luckily, the health department participates in the Vaccines For Children program, which provides vaccines at low or no cost to children 18 and younger.
Eligible families are uninsured, underinsured (meaning their insurance doesn't cover the necessary vaccines), eligible for Medicaid or American Indians. Vaccines are free for children in the last two groups, and uninsured and underinsured children's parents must pay a flat fee of $15 per vaccine.
"There's a $60 cap, so even if they get six or seven shots, it won't cost more than $60," Woods said.
The health department's website notes families will not be turned away due to inability to pay.
The Callaway County Health Department can also now bill private insurers for immunizations.
Missouri does allow for medical and religious exemptions for immunization requirements, and the health department can provide exemption cards to be filled out.
Medical exemption cards require the signature of a doctor.
Woods said health department nurses counsel parents before issuing religious exemption cards. They can help clear up common misconceptions and concerns about vaccines.
"We discourage that because we feel that immunizations are very important," she said. "A lot of parents aren't aware that, for example, if there's an outbreak of chicken pox at school, their unvaccinated child can be excluded until the outbreak ends and may miss a lot of classes."
To learn more or set up an appointment, call 573-642-6881.