Children are facing new vaccination requirements, often receiving more or earlier vaccinations now, and officials with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center are using their celebration of National Immunization Month this August as a way to get the word out.
According to Maggie Simmons, the administrative director of the center, they are also using a superhero theme to highlight the effort for children.
Additionally, the department has partnered with Build-A-Bear to give children a little extra incentive to be tough in the face of a few needles. According to the Simmons, children who receive their immunizations at the health center are entered into a drawing for a “superhero” bear.
One health center staff member said the superhero and Build-A-Bear program serve as a distraction for children who receive vaccinations.
On Friday the health center set-up a “superhero outreach booth” at the Mayberry Mall in Mount Airy. According to health center staff about 100 children wandered through, entering into the Build-A-Bear drawing and getting their faces painted.
While the superhero theme may put a fun spin on shots, according to Brandi Poplin, the Surry County clinical services department director, immunizations are integral to a child’s health.
“Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to ensure a healthy future for their child,” said Poplin. “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check with your doctor or the Surry County Health & Nutrition Center to find out what vaccines your child needs.”
According to the health center new vaccination requirements are:
• For children born after July 1, 2015, four doses of Pneumococcal conjugate (Pneumonia) vaccine-will be required by 15 months of age
• 1 dose of Meningococcal conjugate (Meningitis) vaccine is required for individuals entering the seventh grade or by 12 years of age and one booster dose for individuals entering the twelth grade or 17 years of age beginning August 1, 2020.
• The fourth Polio dose will now be required on or after the 4th birthday and before entering school.
• 2 Varicella doses will now be required with one dose on or after 12 months of age and the second dose required before entering school for the first time.
• Tdap will now be required for individuals who are entering the seventh grade or by 12 years of age.
Surry County residents can take their children to the health and nutrition center to receive immunizations during regular operating hours which are Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Heath department staff said that in most cases, especially when a child is already a patient at the center, no appointment is necessary for immunizations. Children who are uninsured or on Medicaid can be vaccinated for free, and adults may receive free vaccinations in some instances.
If immunizations do cost patients an out-of-pocket expense those expenses vary with each vaccine. For more information regarding the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center’s immunization program call (336) 401-8400.
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or firstname.lastname@example.org.