It won't be long before private doctors will be booked solid with appointments for school shots and physicals, which is why the health department is encouraging parents to beat the rush and get their children vaccinated now, at their own doctor or at any public health clinic. Spokesman Porfirio Villareal says the department is also working with private doctors to help them improve the city's controversially low rate of child immunizations.
"The Houston Department of Health and Human Services has training that we do for the providers of vaccines for children, and that's a program that offers free vaccines to doctors. We make sure that they are trained, that they go and issue reminders to the parents that they need to come in and get their child immunized."
Villareal says babies and infants are the main targets of this effort because they're the ones most susceptible to contagious diseases, but making parents aware of this is a never ending job.
"Because you have new generations of parents, you need to re-educate parents about the importance of immunizations, and how that's gonna keep them safe and healthy. So we need to reeducate the parents about not waiting till the children get to school."
Villareal says there's really no excuse for not getting children immunized and keeping the shots up to date, because city and county public health clinics provide shots at no cost for parents who can't afford to go to a private doctor. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.