Cumberland County began offering families immunizations Tuesday as part of a back to school effort. Next month, officials say they will also broaden their services to make it easier for parents to get their children up-to-date on their shots.
The immunizations are available at the public health department on Ramsey Street. However, this year, Cumberland County is also offering vaccines students need to go back-to-school by opening clinics at three local schools. Through partnering with Cumberland County Public Schools, those extra clinics will open up at Douglas Byrd Middle School, Mac Williams Middle School and Lewis Chapel Middle School in September.
"We know throughout the pandemic that some families may have gotten behind on their back to school immunizations because they couldn't get their primary care provider or they were maybe hesitant to go back out into public," said Dr. Jennifer Green, the director of the Cumberland County Department of Public Health. "So we're helping a lot of families get caught up with their back to school immunizations."
Dr. Green said the county's goal is to make sure every child in the area gets the vaccinations they need this school year. It is crucial children get all of their necessary shots by the 30th day of school; otherwise, they could be taken out of class.
Families that come in for the shots can get free backpacks, hygiene kits and $10 gift cards if they're one of the first 50 people to make it to a clinic. Dr. Green said parents should not be discouraged if they don't have healthcare coverage.
"We want to remind parents that vaccines are free for children under the federal Vaccines for Children program," Dr. Green said. "So even if you don't have health insurance, do not worry about that. We ask that you bring your insurance if you have it. But if you do not, your vaccines will be covered."
Families tell ABC 11 their trips to the public health department for back to school vaccines have been productive.
"The great thing about coming in is that they have all the records," said said Sarah Moore, a Cumberland County parent. Moore came to the clinic with her two young sons for the immunizations. "So you can just walk in and say, 'hey, they need to be caught up.' Even if you don't know what they need to be caught up on (county officials) can pull it up and let you know this is exactly what they need."
"I don't like getting shots so (I was) kind of scared," said Leila Melvin, a Cumberland County high school student. "But for the most part, I'm glad there is a place for me to get a vaccination so that I'm healthy."
After Tuesday, the county's public health department will offer back to school immunizations again on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Outreach clinics at local schools will open on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Mac Williams Middle School. For more information, visit the Cumberland County Public Health Department website.
Outreach Clinics for students entering grades 7 and 12
Sept. 6 - Tuesday, 4-7 p.m., Mac Williams Middle School (4644 Clinton Rd., Fayetteville)
Sept. 8 - Thursday, 4-7 p.m., Douglas Byrd Middle School (1616 Ireland Dr., Fayetteville)
Sept. 15 - Thursday, 4-7 p.m., Lewis Chapel Middle School (2150 Skibo Rd., Fayetteville)
Late-Night Clinics for students entering grades kindergarten, 7 and 12*
Aug. 9 - Tuesday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Cumberland County Department of Public Health (1235 Ramsey St., Fayetteville)
Sept. 13 - Tuesday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Cumberland County Department of Public Health (1235 Ramsey St., Fayetteville)
Walk-ins will be accepted each day until the clinic reaches capacity. Walk-ins will not be accepted after 6:30 p.m. Insurance will be collected; however, vaccines are free for children under 18 through the "Vaccines for Children" program. State law requires every child attending a North Carolina school receive certain vaccines including diphtheria, measles, mumps and whooping cough. Check here for full required vaccine schedule for children.