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Free vaccine week is Aug. 19-23
Last month, two new cases of measles, a disease that was once declared eliminated from the United States, popped up in Texas. According to the CDC, the majority of the individuals who contracted measles were unvaccinated.
Throughout the week of Aug. 19-23, youth ages 18 and under who are uninsured, underinsured, or on government programs can receive a free vaccination at the Hays County Local Health Department, 401 Broadway. From 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. each day, children will be able to obtain back-to-school vaccinations to ensure they are ready for the new school year.
In celebration of National Immunization Awareness Month, which takes place in August, the Hays County Local Health Department partnered with the Live Oak Partners Community Clinic to offer free vaccinations. At their meeting Tuesday morning, the Hays County Commissioners Court passed a resolution declaring August as National Immunization Awareness Month and heard a brief presentation by Eric Schneider, Hays County epidemiologist.
To begin the free week of immunization, the Health Department will hold its 4th Annual Vaccination Festival on Aug. 19, where children will be able to take photos with fire trucks, an ambulance and a SWAT rescue vehicle. Schneider said a bookmobile and jump house will be at the event all day in addition to prizes, games and treats for families.
According to Schneider, vaccines have eradicated many of the diseases that once afflicted our nation.
“Here in the United States we are fortunate enough that the effectiveness of immunizations has worked so well that people are allowed to question if vaccines are even necessary,” he said. “People believe this partially because they feel these are third world diseases and don’t exist here in Hays County, but just last month I investigated eight pertussis cases, five new diagnoses of hepatitis and seven new cases of varicella all within the month of July.”
Schneider said these diseases are preventable through recommended vaccinations. The CDC said the measles was eradicated from the United States in 2000, but there have been 1,110 cases of the disease in 2019 alone. Schneider attributes this outbreak to the increase in international travel and the escalation of individuals who refuse to vaccinate.
“If we continue vaccinating, and vaccinate completely, there just might be a time that many of the diseases that afflict us today will no longer be around to harm future generations,” Schneider said.