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Back-to-school vaccinations more important than ever, Parkland experts say


Irving, Texas. July 16, 2019

Summer is in full swing, but so are preparations for Dallas County students to head back to school in August. With outbreaks of flu, mumps and measles grabbing headlines this year in Texas and nationwide, pediatricians and infectious disease experts at Parkland Health & Hospital System say immunizations are vital to keep your child safe and well.

“Vaccines are one of the most important steps you can take to protect the health of your child,” said Barbara Durso, MD, lead staff physician at Parkland’s Oak West Health Center. “Vaccines keep children healthy by preventing infectious diseases. When children are healthy, parents and children win. Children miss fewer days of school and parents miss fewer days of work. When parents do not vaccinate their children, they put everyone at risk – their own children, their classmates and their teachers – for diseases that are easily prevented but that can be devastating.”

Parents can bring their children for immunizations on Wednesdays without having to make an appointment to one of Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) health centers or Youth & Family centers located throughout Dallas County to take advantage of convenient access to immunizations on “Walk-in Wednesdays.”

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed 15 measles cases in Texas through June 18, with more than 1,000 cases reported by the CDC in 28 states in the first six months of this year. In May 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 736 cases of mumps in the U.S., with Texas reporting more than 300 cases.

“Measles and mumps are highly contagious diseases that are preventable,” said Trish M. Perl, MD, MSc, infectious disease specialist at Parkland and Professor of Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “They pose serious health risks to children and to adults, as well. Adults are also vulnerable to measles and other childhood diseases if their immunity has declined, if they were inadequately or never vaccinated or if they have conditions that put them at higher risk of complications, such as diabetes or pregnancy.”

In Texas, before entering kindergarten, children are required to have been vaccinated for Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis; Polio; Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); Hepatitis B; Varicella; and Hepatitis A. Children in daycare must also be vaccinated. For older students, a Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis booster and Meningococcal vaccines are required for school

In addition to ensuring their children stay up-to-date on their vaccinations, Dr. Perl urges all adults, age 19 and beyond, to be sure that they are protected.

Immunizations during Walk-in-Wednesdays are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parents can still walk-in with their children for vaccinations on other days, but appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment for your child at a Parkland COPC health center, please call 214-266-4000. To schedule an appointment at a Youth & Family Center, please call 214-266-1257.

Parkland accepts Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and most major insurance plans. If you do not have insurance, Parkland can provide financial screening to determine if patients qualify for financial assistance. In addition, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program may be able to help. The VFC program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger, who are not insured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian or Alaska Native.

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