“Pediatricians anticipate a large rush right before school starts, and we do our best to accommodate those families,” said Jeffrey Brosco, a pediatrician at Jackson Memorial’s Holtz Children’s Hospital and the University of Miami.
In general, children get certain immunizations during their first two years of life, and then additional booster shots at 4 years old. It is those immunizations that must be up to date to start school, as do additional booster shots needed at age 11.
“What we encourage families to do, [is that] every year on their birthday, the child should go in for a regular check-up and the family doctor will give the immunizations needed,” Brosco said. “And then they won’t need them before school starts. They will be up to date and won’t have go worry about it at the last minute.”
Still, to help beat the inevitable back-to-school rush, many hospitals and clinics are extending their hours, and the Miami-Dade and Broward health departments are offering special, free back-to-school immunization clinics and health fairs at various locations.
“We offer all vaccines for children that are not travel related, to get them ready for public schools and private schools,” said Lydia Sandoval, a registered nurse and director of Miami-Dade County Health Department’s immunization program, which targets children who do not have primary physicians.
“If they come to the health department and federally qualified centers, they will have to take a number,” she said. “It’s first-come first-served, and they could be waiting hours.”
Miami Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Care Center has extended its hours, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m Mondays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
The center gives about 400 vaccines a month, Rosa-Olivares said.
“The reality is,” he said, “that it has been proven that vaccines have decreased the existence of the majority of diseases we used to see in the past, like polio and diphtheria, to almost zero.”