With schools set to open next week, health services officials with Stanislaus County and Modesto City Schools are pushing the state-required immunizations for schoolchildren.
In an advisory this week, Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, county health officer, said the vaccinations protect children against serious diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, chicken pox and whooping cough.
“Ensuring children have received all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children,” Vaishampayan said.
This time of year, health care providers are overcome by appointment requests from parents who wait until the last minute to get vaccinations for incoming kindergartners or kids who need updated immunizations.
In an effort to cut down on the number of under-vaccinated kids excluded from school, Modesto City Schools will hold a free walk-in immunization clinic Friday at Roosevelt Junior High, at College and West Orangeburg avenues. The clinic from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. is for students in Modesto City Schools.
The school district has teamed up with Golden Valley Health Centers to run the clinic. Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Parents should bring immunization records, and those with health coverage are asked to bring insurance information.
Every school year, about 400 to 600 students within the boundaries of Modesto City Schools are barred from attending school because they don’t have required vaccinations.
Aurora Licudine, chairwoman of school nurses for the district, said those children can miss one or two days or a month of school while their parents arrange an appointment with their doctor.
Beside the vaccinations for kindergarteners, students entering the seventh grade require a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) shot. The state added that requirement after a number of infants died in whooping cough outbreaks in California in 2010. A varicella vaccination also is required for seventh graders.
Under legislation that took effect in July 2016, parents in California can no longer claim a personal belief exemption from vaccination laws.
In Stanislaus County, the number of children entering kindergarten with all required vaccinations was 96.5 percent in the 2016-17 school year, almost a 2 percent increase over the previous year and better than the statewide average. But some schools in the county have been lax in reporting vaccination rates to the state.
At 82 percent in 2017, schools in the county had the third lowest reporting rate when compared with other counties in California.
County public health officials say it’s a good idea for parents to arrange time well before the start of school to review their child’s immunization record and ask their doctor about needed vaccinations.
The county Health Services Agency has an immunization clinic for low-income residents, the uninsured and Medi-Cal recipients, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 820 Scenic Drive. The office is open until 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.