ST. GEORGE — The Southwest Utah Public Health Department is encouraging parents to bring their kids in for mandatory vaccinations early to avoid the back-to-school rush.
All children entering preschool, kindergarten and seventh grade are required to provide proof of a number of immunizations before they can begin school, except for those whose parents have claimed an exemption for medical, personal or religious reasons.
Back-to-school immunization events with extended hours will be held in St. George, Ceder City and Mesquite next week, in addition to regular hours.
- St. George: Aug. 6, 7:30 a.m. to noon at 620 S. 400 East.
- Cedar City: Aug. 6, 8-11 a.m. at 260 E. DL Sargent Drive.
- Mesquite: Aug. 9, 8 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. at 830 Hafen Lane.
An appointment is required to attend the immunization event in Mesquite and should be made by calling the Nevada Health District Public Health Center at 702-759-1682. No appointment is necessary to attend the St. George and Cedar City clinics.
“Parents can bring their kids in any time during the weeks from now until school to do it, but this will be specifically for that,” said Dave Heaton, public information officer for Southwest Utah Public Health Department. “Sometimes if it’s last-minute it can be crowded, there may be a longer wait, and so we’re just encouraging parents to come in as soon as they can and get that done.”
Parents need to bring a number of items with them to have their child immunized, including the child’s immunization record, payment or proof of insurance and the parent’s photo ID.
Vaccinations are covered by most insurance companies. For those who are uninsured, the cost is $20.50 per shot.
Heaton said children are typically more susceptible to the diseases prevented by vaccinations and are at greater risk for complications when they do get sick, making it important for school-aged children to receive immunizations, which are proven to prevent the spread of disease.
“We’ve had some resurgence this past year, but it seems like measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, all those types of things that used to be quite easily passed in children, are now virtually unheard of because most kids are immunized,” Heaton said. “And so as long as we keep kids immunized, we keep those diseases out of the schools.”
The health department is concerned and monitoring for an outbreak of measles, which was once eradicated in the U.S. but has reappeared in recent years. While so far there have not been any cases of the disease in Southern Utah, there were two reported cases in Clark County, Nevada, in April.
There was also a reported case of mumps, another vaccine-preventable disease, at Sunset Elementary School in St. George in February, which prompted local officials to make a push encouraging people to receive the vaccine.
Both diseases are highly contagious and spread even more easily in places like schools where kids are interacting with each other in a confined space.
More information regarding the types of immunizations required for school-aged children, as well as the times and locations of health department immunization clinics in all five Southwest Utah counties, can be found online.
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