Health science center provides vaccines to students in need

Posted Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Seventh-grade students at Fort Worth’s Morningside Middle School clenched their teeth, closed their eyes and held their breath while receiving free immunizations Thursday morning.

“It doesn’t hurt,” said Hagos Araya, 12, after receiving four shots. He was ready for math class after his face registered an expression somewhere between a wince and smile.

The shots were administered by the University of North Texas Health Science Center, which provided an on-site unit of nurses and health personnel ready to help get students caught up on their vaccines. State law requires students to have immunizations before they can attend school.

“All of the vaccines are free of charge to parents through the federal program, Vaccines for Children,” said said Laura Standish, registered nurse with the UNTHSC Department of Pediatrics.

The effort focused on children from families who are low income or uninsured.

Between 100 to 150 Morningside students were believed to need immunizations so they could officially enroll in classes. School leaders and UNTHSC health professionals worked to alert families about the shots.

Nurses started giving out shots as early as 7:30 a.m., Standish said. By about 9:30 a.m., about 15 students had received their shots. More students were expected to trickle in throughout the day.

Danny Fracassi, assistant principal at Morningside, said they worked to inform parents about the service offered Thursday.

Three shots are required for the start of school for seventh-grade students, Standish said.

Shots administered were:

• The varicella vaccine, which protects against chickenpox.

• Meningococcal, which protects against several types of meningitis.

• Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis.

• Students had the option to receive the HPV vaccine, which protects against human papillomavirus.

Standish said they reached out to parents in Spanish and English.

“There are many barriers,” Standish said, citing a lack of information, transportation and access to healthcare.

Standish said parents sometimes have trouble getting the shots if clinics are booked, or if they can’t take time off from work.

Healthcare workers emphasized the importance of vaccines with their campus visit. They referred to the recent measles outbreak as an example why people should be up to date on their immunizations.

“Vaccines are the only way to protect against these diseases,” Standish said.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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