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Health clinics urge families to get vaccinations done before wait times become an hour or more

Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-03 04:12:45-04

TULSA, Okla. -- The state of Oklahoma requires immunizations for those going into Kindergarten and 7th grade, and a shot record for anyone enrolling in school.

The Tulsa Health Department said without the shots and records, children won't be able to start the school year.

"The true consequences though are protection against disease. Someone who is not vaccinated is not protected against those diseases. And the people around that person also are at more risk," clinic services manager Ellen Niemitalo said.

There are medical exemptions for those unable to take certain vaccines. In that case families are asked to provide schools with documentation from a doctor.

"Oklahoma also allows for religious or personal exemptions. Those exemptions must be processed through the Oklahoma State Department of Health," Niemitalo said.

Staff with the Oklahoma Caring Foundation plan to be out in service vans six days a week for the rest of the summer, with the goal of reaching families who struggle to make it to the doctor's office.

"Some of the barriers are transportation, and a lot of those students that we serve actually have working parents and it's very hard for them to get away from work to make time to take these children to receive immunizations," foundation manager Amy Pulliam said.

The mobile medical van will provide vaccines for children that are enrolled in Medicaid, are Native American, or don't have health insurance. For anyone else, the Tulsa Health Department will be on site with the foundation this weekend to print shot records for anyone who needs them.

As the summer goes on, clinics expect wait times will increase. Staff tell us in the weeks ahead, patients could wait over an hour before getting their children vaccinated.

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