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Avoid The Back-To-School Immunization Rush

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Most kids across North Texas will be heading back to school next week, so many parents across North Texas will be spending this week getting their children ready for the coming school year.

But health officials have issued a warning for kids who have not yet rolled up their sleeves for the necessary immunizations. Don’t wait until the last minute.

A week before the start of school, parents like Melissa Jimenez endured only a short wait for her 4-year-old son’s shots. “I didn’t want to stand in line for hours,” Jimenez said. And, she wanted to make sure that her son, Benjamin, was actually attending class during his first week of pre-kindergarten. “I don’t want him to miss not one day of school. It’s his first day of school. He’s been looking forward to it since he was 2.”

However, hundreds of students will spend their first day of school waiting in a long line at the Dallas County Health & Human Services building. No matter how many warnings are issued, it seems to happen every year. “I hope it doesn’t happen that way,” said Zachary Thompson with the DCHHS, “but based on human nature and procrastination, I’ve seen it every year for the last 16 years.”

An estimated 35,000 children in Dallas County alone have still not gotten their shots.

“If they wait until the last minute, there’s going to be long lines,” warned Thompson. “They are going to be frustrated. Their children will be frustrated.”

Due to the extreme heat, Dallas County officials are prepared to pass out water to anyone waiting outside in those lines next week. But that does not have to be the case, if students and parents got their shots completed this week.

Past years have seen vaccine shortages and changes in the immunization requirements, which helped cause even longer lines. But that is not the case this year. “There’s enough vaccine available. There’s no new requirements,” Thompson noted. “We have the same old problem, and that’s procrastinating.”

That is why health officials are urging parents and students to get their immunizations this week, before the first day of school arrives.

Five shots later – no tears — and little Benjamin Jimenez was ready to have a healthy start on his first day of school. “No crying. He took it like a champ,” said his mom. “He did very good.”

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