Only two-thirds of the children in Bexar County are up to date on their immunizations. This is the time of year clinics are flooded with requests for last minute shots before the school year begins.
In today’s TPR Lifeline, Wendy Rigby talks with Kenya Wilson, the Immunization Program Manager for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.
Rigby: Kenya, this is one of the busiest months in the immunization clinic. How many folks do you expect to see in August?
Wilson: In August, at our immunization clinic, we’re expecting to see about 1,000 patients.
Why so many?
We are the only walk in clinic in the San Antonio area. So clients can easily access our clinic to get vaccinations on a day to day basis. We’re open Monday through Friday from 8 to 3. So if they can’t get that last minute appointment with their actual doctor’s office, they can easily walk into our facility without an appointment and get those vaccinations that they would need in order to get into the school system.
But it’s better to get these ahead of time and not sort of wait ‘til the last minute, correct?
Yes ma’am, exactly. What we want to preach is vaccine for health, not vaccines for school. We feel that it’s important to change the mindset that’s actually going through parents’ minds on “we’re getting these vaccines to get the kids enrolled in school.” They need to get the vaccines to protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases.
At Metro Health, you don’t want cost to be a barrier for anyone to get the immunizations they need.
Definitely not. We do have programs in place to make sure that vaccines are accessible to the public and to protect the entire family.
What is the immunization rate here in Bexar County?
Our immunization rate here in Bexar County is 67.5 percent. We have gone up from where we were before. In the state of Texas, we do have where you can actually file a medical exemption as well as personal belief. So we do have a lot of people that are actually filing for those exemptions. Now since you don’t see these diseases out in the community, a lot of people have forgotten about how vaccines have contributed to that. So now since you don’t see polio out in the community, people aren’t rushing out to get those vaccinations. So we kind of ended up based off of how well we’ve done, with actually pushing vaccinations and making sure that we push to eradicate disease to where it’s not looking as it’s so important.
A victim of your own success.
So the HPV vaccine is for human pappillomavirus which is known to be a major risk factor for cervical cancer. A lot of people still don’t know about this. Or they might feel it’s not appropriate for their 11-year-old child. Why should you consider if you’re the parent of a girl or a boy getting this vaccine?
While we do hear a lot about cervical cancer, there are other types of cancer that your child is going to be susceptible to if they do not get this vaccine to protect their future from it.
So if someone has a question about this, should they call their family doctor?
They should. I highly recommend that. If they don’t have a family healthcare doctor, they can also call our office, our immunization clinic. And the telephone number is 210-8894.
Rigby: Tell us about this exciting collaborative project you have coming up this Saturday, the 19th.
Wilson: Our program will be partnering with the Bexar County Medical Society Alliance to put on a back to school immunization drive. At that drive, we will be promoting cancer prevention.
Rigby: There will be physicians on site, you said. Why is that and why should that make people feel better about going there?
Wilson: The physicians will actually be on site. There will be three that will be donating their time on that Saturday to provide education to the community to make them aware of why it’s so important for them to receive the HPV vaccinations. And we will have vaccinations available for the parents, too. So if you do have some parents that are there that are within the required age of 19 to 26, we will have HPV vaccines for them as well.
Where is this taking place and when?
It’s going to be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and it’s going to be at the Gilbert Garza Community Center which is located at 1450 Mira Vista. And the zip code for that is going to be 78228.
Kenya Wilson with Metro Health, thanks so much for being here.
Thank you for having me.