To the Editor:

It is close to that time of year again when schools will be welcoming students back to the classroom for another academic year. With that comes the need for students to have immunizations up-to-date and to “be wise, immunize.”

Immunizations come in two classes: those that are recommended, and those that are required. The Knox County Health Department has all the vaccines that are required, and some that are recommended, for students up to age 18. The Knox County Health Department has vaccines to cover the insured, the uninsured and the under-insured.

Our major problem is getting patients to make appointments and keep them. If you make an appointment and cannot keep it for any reason whatsoever, it is not a crime, just call us to cancel or reschedule. There is a lot of preparation that goes into being ready for a patient to show up for their appointment. We value time and want the patient to be in and out of the Knox County Health Department as quickly and safely as possible. Walk-in patients have to wait until the scheduled patients are taken care of, so it works better if an appointment is made and we can plan for the patient and anticipate what the patient’s needs are.

We are computerized and log immunizations in the CHIRP system (Children and Hoosier Immunization Registry Program). The school nurses have access to this and can tell if a student is up-to-date or not. The school nurses do not have the vaccine and, therefore, they cannot get students up to date.

The Knox County Health Department does not give advice or make recommendations regarding vaccines. The health department is just the provider of what vaccines are available. It is the recommendation of the Knox County Health Department that the patient speak with their physician about what he/she recommends, ask questions, research any vaccine that they may have concerns about, and read package inserts of vaccines.

At the present time, the Knox County Health Department is the largest provider of vaccines. In the future, there is a hope that there will be more providers of vaccines in Knox County. There are many requirements that need to be met in order to be a provider, including monitored refrigeration with backup refrigerator and freezer, a backup power source in case of a power failure, as well as records that have to be kept electronically with paper backup.

Most of all, students need to make an appointment and remember to keep that appointment to be fine for the school year. They should not wait until the last minute, as there are only so many hours available each day at the health department. If you work with the health department, they work with you.

Dr. Jacqmain is the Knox County Health Officer

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