Lines at Clinics May Be Long, but Vaccinations for D.C. Public Students Free

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 21, 2009

Hundreds of D.C. public school children and their parents packed the hallways and gym at Kelly Miller Middle School on Thursday to be vaccinated in time for the first day of school Monday.

Although some parents complained of the heat and the sometimes hours-long wait to see a nurse, most said they were grateful for the free clinic.

Gracie Harris, 56, brought her grandson, Jalen Johnson, 5, to get vaccinated. "I'm glad I got here early," said Harris, who arrived at the clinic nearly two hours before it opened. Nearby, Jalen slept in a chair.

The clinic is one of several free immunization events the city's Department of Health is holding for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The clinics will run through Saturday.

For some, the clinics can mean moments of fear and bouts of crying. Shauntese Young, 29, straddled the end of a table as her daughter, Paris Young, 10, and son, Joseph Green, 6, received vaccinations simultaneously. Tears streamed down Paris's face as she received three shots; Joseph jumped up and high-fived the nurses after receiving just one.

"You have to establish a rapport with them," said Rose Nubia Tangham, a registered nurse who consoled Paris.

On Friday, free vaccinations will be available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the DOH's Immunization Clinic, 6323 Georgia Ave. NW, Suite 305. On Saturday, clinics will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kelly Miller Middle School, 301 49th St. NE; Ballou Senior High School, 3401 Fourth St. SE; Kramer Middle School, 1700 Q St. SE; and Coolidge Senior High School, 6315 Fifth St. NW.

Parents must bring their children's immunization records as well as proof of District residency, such as a state or school identification or a copy of a utility bill.

Several new vaccinations were added to the list required for D.C. students this year. They include the pneumococcal vaccine, chicken pox vaccine and the human papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine.

For details about the vaccines required for various age groups, visit the DOH's Web site.

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