Local Health Departments Gearing Up for Immunization Season

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA/MIDLAND - With the new school year almost here, many parents are already checking off their list for school supplies but some forget the most important thing they need is immunizations for their kids. Health officials say that could be a bad idea. Health Departments in both Midland and Odessa say they've seen an explosion in the number of people coming in.

The school supply list includes more than just paper, scissors and crayons. As every parent knows, your child must also have your child's immunization record up to date in order to start the school year.

Sal Garcia, Director at the Midland Health Department, says there are two factors as to why there are more parents getting their children vaccinated this year than last year.

"Nowadays you have mom and dad working so they take advantage of the days off or the time they have, and also I think they don't want to wait till the last day or last minute to get things done," Garcia said.

Garcia tells NewsWest 9, he has noticed some vaccines going faster than others, but he says there is a good reason for that.

"We have seen a little bit of increase in our tetanus shot, our HPV vaccine and meningococcal vaccine which kids are using to go back to high school and also go back to college," Garcia said.

Even if your child is not starting school this year, all daycare's and head start centers require that a child's immunization record to be up to date.

Penny Farris, Immunization Program Manager at the Ector County Health Department, says that just this month alone, she has seen the numbers skyrocket.

"Just for the month of July through yesterday for two months to 18 years we saw 243 kiddos, we have administered 772 doses of vaccines," Farris said.

One thing that stood out to Farris? Of the 243 kids who were vaccinated, 131 were new registrations. So what does this mean?

"That means that they are most likely new to the Ector County Health Department as being served through our facility," Farris said.

With more people coming into our area, both Garcia and Farris urge parents not to wait till the last minute.

"We want to encourage our parents to bring their kids in before school starts because of the vaccines that we have and instead of having too many people in the lobby versus waiting till the last day or the first day of school," Garcia said.

"We really want parents to give that some thought and not procrastinate. We try to encourage them early as soon as school is out to make that appointment," Farris said.