The Dallas County Health Department estimates about 2,500 children will miss the first day of school because they didn’t get their immunizations.
Long lines outside the health department have become synonymous with the start of a new school year. It’s no surprise children need their vaccinations before they can enter the classroom. Yet every year, the department is flooded with families trying to squeeze in their shots at the last minute. So what’s behind this vaccination procrastination? Here are five reasons parents gave Nightcap.
Number Five: A long-distance dilemma — as in a new, foreign exchange student. That’s the case with Sharon McPherson who’s playing host to an incoming high school junior from Germany. The student arrived into town on Thursday.
“The school sent us here,” McPherson said about why she was stuck in line. “We went to another site, and it was actually closed for the afternoon for a meeting.”
Number Four: New address, new guidelines. Some parents said they recently moved to Dallas County, and they’re scrambling to get the necessary shots in order, so their children can be enrolled in school.
Number Three: Family physicians didn’t have enough shots. Many family doctors don’t stock-pile required shots, so families are sent to the health department to get their mandatory immunizations.
Number Two: Incomplete shot records. Virginia Ibarra said she didn’t realize her son was missing an essential inoculation until Friday. She’s waited in line, and in cue, to have her son’s shots up to date.
“He’s missing one so we had to come here and wait,” Ibarra said. “I don’t have a physician here, so I had to come here.”
Number One: Perhaps the most used defense — work got in the way.
“I’ve been busy working,” Loveday Igwe said. “I had to call in today so I can be able to do this.”
These immunization justifications are not valid excuses for the Dallas County Health Department.
“You take off for Six Flags, you take off for other events socially, so you have to make this a priority,” Dallas County Health Department Director Zach Thompson said. “It’s just like going out and getting school supplies, school clothes. You have to focus on getting your child’s immunizations. It’s a state law.”