Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Urge Parents to Get Immunizations to Protect Children

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Urge Parents to Get Immunizations to Protect Children

Article excerpt

With less than a month before schools open, county, state and school officials have joined a national push to make sure more children get the shots they need to start school.

Three school districts - Mehlville, Ritenour and University City - offer continuing immunization clinics.

In addition, government programs offer vaccines at six sites in St. Louis County. A number of school districts have expressed an interest in setting up immunization clinics.

"The St. Louis area has made significant progress, but there is still a way to go to get kids appropriately immunized," said Melinda Sanderson, who coordinates immunizations for Missouri.

St. Louis County officials estimate that 75 percent of children ages 2 or younger will be immunized by this fall, a statewide goal. The goal next year is 90 percent.

A year ago, Missouri ranked next to the bottom in immunizations for children in that age group. Now the state ranks about 45th.

State law requires children to have immunizations to enroll in day care and school. That means parents need to get their children shots for diseases such as polio, measles, mumps and whooping cough, said Michael Williams, manager of communicable disease control for St. Louis County.

"They need to get the shots on time," he added.

Williams said school districts offer an ideal location for immunization clinics.

University City will start a monthly immunization clinic Aug. 22. The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to noon at the Julia Goldstein Early Childhood Education Center, 737 Kingsland Avenue. After that, the clinic will be on the second Thursday of the month.

Maureen May, the district's director of student services, said many families miss immunizations because of changing laws or the lack of a physician.

"Rather than have the kids miss the first few days of school, we would prefer to be proactive," she said.

The Ritenour School District began offering free shots four years ago in conjunction with state and local agencies.

In the first year more than 720 children got the free shots. …

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