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Clinics urge families to plan ahead for immunizations as students get ready for back-to-school

Posted at 7:50 PM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 23:09:59-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Health Department is urging families to get their immunizations now.

Oklahoma requires shots for those going into kindergarten and seventh grade, as well as an immunization record for anyone enrolling in school.

Those who put this off right before school begins could wait hours.

"August tends to be the busiest time of year at not only the health department but most other providers as far as providing the vaccines. So certainly it's encouraged to come in earlier rather than later to get those vaccines," clinic manager Ellen Niemitalo said.

All this as the concern over measles grows. The second vaccine for the disease is required for students going into kindergarten.

"Measles can be a very serious illness. I heard it described this week as the flu on steroids. People who get the measles really can be quite ill," Niemitalo said.

The Oklahoma Caring Foundation uses vans to get out into the community and help those struggling with transportation or insurance.

"For parents it's very difficult sometimes because they're working and we're outside trying to help to get their kids ready for back to school. It's going to be very helpful for them," caring van specialist Fernando Guillen said.

These vans serve about 100 students every week, driving through Tulsa to provide vaccines for children who are Native American, enrolled in Medicaid, or don't have health insurance.

Those looking for exemptions have to plan ahead.

"Oklahoma currently allows personal or religious exemptions or a medical exemption. Those are the three qualifiers. There are exemption forms that the schools would have, those go through the state department of health," Niemitalo said.

Staff with the health department tell 2 Works for You without shots and records, students won't be able to start the school year.

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