The 2017-18 school year may not be over just yet, but the Crawford County Health Department is already working to help parents and students get ready for next year.
The CCHD's first back-to-school immunization and lead screening clinics is 8:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the department offices, 202 N. Christopher, Robinson. Appointments are required and parents are urged to call 544-8798 to set them up and to determine the immunization needs of their children.
CCHD plans to provide several daytime and evening clinics during the spring and summer months to meet area students' immunization needs. Lead screenings and hemoglobin levels will be provided as needed along with immunizations during these clinics but must be scheduled at time appointment is made.
"As this school year draws to a close, the health department would like to remind parents that it is not too early to start preparing for the next school year," Immunization Coordinator Jenna Thompson said.
Parents will need to provide schools with proof of their children's immunizations for the upcoming school year if they haven't already done so. They should also verify insurance coverage in advance and bring current insurance or medical cards to their appointments.
Generally, children require booster vaccinations before entering kindergarten, sixth grade and their senior year if they have met previous requirements for Illinois child care or schools. Children entering a child care facility, preschool, or early childhood pre-kindergarten program are also required to be up to date on their vaccines.
Parental consent is required if a child is under 18 years of age. If a parent cannot be present, a signed note of parental permission may be provided by a responsible adult accompanying the child to the visit.
Appointments should be scheduled early in the summer to avoid the last-minute rush, Thompson said.
Other clinic dates are:
3 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23.
8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 7.
3 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 13.
1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 14.
1 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20.
1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, July 11.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, July 19.
8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wedesday, July 20.
8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9.
3 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8.
1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9.
The department also offers "walk-in" clinics from 8 to 11 a.m. every Monday. These require no appointment but become very busy in August.
Earlier this year, two individuals with measles traveled through Chicago O'Hare airport. This prompted Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah to remind parents of the importance of immunizations.
"Children can suffer serious illness when exposed to diseases like measles, mumps and pertussis," Shah said.
"Although vaccines are among the most successful, safest, and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death, some people still chose not to be vaccinated," he said.
"That is why it is important that you protect your child against serious illness by having them vaccinated before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases," Shah added.
Through on-time immunization, parent can protect infants and children from 14 vaccine- preventable diseases before age two.
Because of the success of vaccines, parents may not have heard of or seen the serious health effects caused by vaccine-preventable diseases, such as polio. While childhood immunization rates remain high, children in the U.S. can and sometimes do get diseases that some parents might consider diseases of the past.
In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles; some even died. Today, many practicing physicians have never seen a case of measles due to the effectiveness of the vaccine.
However, even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can still be commonly transmitted in many parts of the world and brought into the country by unvaccinated individuals, putting other unvaccinated people at risk.
The Vaccines For Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost for children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. The VCF program helps children get their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule.
More information about the VFC program and immunizations can be found on the IDPH website.