St. Joseph Health Department warns time's running out for student immunizations

“We’re not going to be able to see the same quantity of people that we have in the past..." said Connie Werner, Clinic Supervisor for the St. Joseph Health Department.

Posted: Aug 7, 2020 7:32 AM
Updated: Aug 8, 2020 8:24 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) School for the St. Joseph School District is only a few weeks away and that means it's time to get students ready for school.

Some kids may need a backpack, others a laptop, but every student, whether they're learning digitally or in-person, will need to get their required immunizations. The St. Joseph Health Department said time is quickly running out for parents to get their student(s) vaccinated. 

“What tends to happen is that people just have other priorities and they don’t really think about it until you have two days to get this done or you’re not going to school and then everybody shows up at the same time. That seems to be what’s happening this year as well,” said Connie Werner, Clinic Supervisor for the St. Joseph Health Department. 

Last August, the health department provided 566 people with immunizations in that single month before the start of school, primarily in those last couple weeks before the first day of school. This year, health officials said that last-ditch effort won't be a possibility. 

“We’re not going to be able to see the same quantity of people that we have in the past. That means, come out now when you have a month before school starts instead of right before school starts and we might have to turn you away because we’ve reached our limit,” said Werner. 

The St. Joseph Health Department is operating with a check-in system that limits the amount of people in the building at one time. Health officials said it's a system that promotes social distancing.

“We are having people check in at our window, but they’re waiting out in their vehicles to minimize large groups of people. Our building is not designed to hold large quantities and keep social distancing,” said Werner. 

Because of the new check-in process and the small amount of shots the health department has administered to students so far, health officials said they're worried parents are jeopardizing their student(s) start date. “My concern is those persons that wait until the day before school starts and you realize the queues are full and you aren’t going to be able to get the shots in time,” said Werner. 

Health officials warn if parents wait up until the last minute to get their child's required shots, students could end up missing some school days. 

“So, please don’t expect things to work the same way they did. There are going to have to be modifications because we are still existing in a world with COVID still present in the community,” said Werner. 

Medical professionals encourage everyone, student or not, to get their seasonal shots this year. 

“Because a lot of during this COVID, we’ve seen people have not been seeking routine medical care. So, talk with your caregivers or get in touch with your clinic to get those routine vaccines, including influenza when it comes out,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, KU Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control. 

The St. Joseph Health Department is also limiting entrance to two children per one adult. The health department advises families with more than two children, to bring enough adults for the amount of children in the household. 

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