The Clock's Ticking For School Immunizations | KERA News

The Clock's Ticking For School Immunizations

Aug 7, 2014

With public school starting in a little more than two weeks, county health departments are seeing more and more families packing their clinics to get kids’ shots.

Dallas County’s Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson is almost always hawking immunizations.

“There might be at least 10,000 students,” Thompson says, “that have not got their immunizations. So we need to get them immunized because on the first day of school, if their immunizations are not up to date, they’ll be turned away.”

Dallas County's Health and Human Services Director, Zachary Thompson, pushing free school shots for kids at the recent back-to-school fair in Dallas
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

That was Thompson in Fair Park last week at the back-to-school fair. He says no one wants kids and parents lined up around the county’s Stemmons clinic on a hot first day of school. Today, dozens of families, including Dawn Guice and her daughters, are here for shots.

Six year-old Stacie has learned games on mom’s cell phone help distract her from the needle.

I love to play games because they’re fun,” Stacie says. “I play Pet Rescue. You’re supposed to find two matches and push it and then you find two more matches and push it.”

Mom says that distraction works up until the sleeve gets lifted and cool alcohol swipes the arm. That’s when mom steps in.

“This one here, most of the time I have to tell her to turn her heard,” explains mom. “I say ‘look out there, there’s a bird, out the window.’ Click,  and that’s it.”

Stacie took the shots well enough.  Four-year-old sister Makayla made more noise.  

“O, wow, ow” Makayla yells.

Makayla (in pink), seconds after getting her immunzation shots. Her yelling didn't last long. Stacie looks on. Makayla wanted her shots so she could go to school and be like her older sister, who loves school.
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News

But within about a second or two, she’s smiling. Mom says Makayla actually wanted her shots.

“She begged for the shots,” Dawn Guice says. “She’s been begging ever since she turned four. It doesn’t bother her.”

That’s because Makayla can’t wait to go to school, like her sister.

“Whatever her sister does, she wants to also,” observes mom. “If it’s getting up and going to school in the morning she thinks she’s supposed to go too.”

And now, she’ll be ready for pre-k, thanks to the shots, today three in one arm, covered with cartoon band aids. Dallas, Denton, Collin and Tarrant Counties offer affordable immunizations to qualified, low-income families. 

Dallas County's health clinic where discounted immunizations are offered to residents
Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News