GREENFIELD — Dozens of students were sent home from school last year for failing to receive state-mandated vaccines, prompting Greenfield-Central School Corp. officials to try a new tactic for getting students vaccinated on time.
Greenfield-Central has partnered with the Hancock County Health Department to host a walk-in vaccination clinic at Greenfield Intermediate School from noon to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Students without health insurance or whose coverage doesn’t include vaccinations will receive vaccines for free at the clinic.
The walk-in clinic is scheduled during the same hours as school registration to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated before the Sept. 30 deadline, corporation nurse Dawn Hanson said.
After that date, all students who haven’t received immunizations are sent home until they can provide proof they’ve received their shots. Greenfield-Central sent home 36 students across the district last year. They were forced to miss class until they could provide documentation they’d been vaccinated.
Allison Catron, public health nurse at the county health department, said she hopes the clinic will reduce the number this year. When students are kept out of school, they can fall behind the rest of their class, which can have long-term effects on their education, she said.
“We want to exclude as few students as possible because that only makes things more difficult for the kids and their parents,” she said.
“We’re trying to address the issue before it arises and make it as easy as possible to get those vaccinations.”
Megan Long, a kindergarten teacher at Harris Elementary School, said she has had students wait until the last day to receive their vaccinations.
Long said she’s had to check students’ records as they walked in the door because she knew they were up against the deadline.
When a parent fails to schedule a vaccination appointment, it is the child who suffers by being sent home, she said.
“That’s valuable instruction time they’re missing out on simply because they don’t have vaccinations,” Long said.
Hanson, who organized the walk-in clinic with Catron, also worries about the risks for students who can’t receive vaccinations because of medical reasons.
A student with a medical exemption from a vaccine — one who has had a severe allergic reaction to a particular vaccine in the past, for example — is admitted to school but can remain susceptible to illness.
“So we want to keep the bulk of our student population vaccinated to protect those who can’t receive them,” she said.
Hanson said she hopes that, if parents realize their children still need vaccinations when they come to register, they can take care of it immediately.
“If they look at their immunization record and see that they haven’t received the necessary vaccinations, then (school officials) can send them straight over to the vaccination clinic and get it done right away,” she said.
For those who can’t attend the walk-in clinic, free vaccines for children without adequate health insurance are offered by appointment year-round at the county health department, Catron said.
What: Walk-in clinic for Greenfield-Central students in need of required vaccinations
When: Noon to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday
Where: Greenfield Intermediate School, 204 W. Park Ave.
Cost: Vaccines are free for those without health insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover vaccines.