WEST PHILADELPHIA - It's a busy time for many pediatricians and family doctors.
On top of regular back-to-school check-ups, they're also doing a lot of catch-up vaccinations to help families comply with Pennsylvania's new school immunization law.
"Aren't you happy to go to big boy school?" says Luchrisha Graves.
Son Noah quickly nods, "Uh-huh."
The 5-year-old is ready for his first day of kindergarten. He has gear with his favorite super-hero.
"I like Ironman - a bookbag and a lunch box," he said.
And he's up-to-date on his vaccinations.
Dr. Kristen Feemster of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia says this year, every child and teenager in Pennsylvania needs to be up-to-date by the first day of school.
"Parents will need to show a certificate or letter from their provider, showing that their child has received all of the required vaccines, or a letter showing they are going to receive them," says Dr. Feemster, who also serves as medical director of the Philadelphia Department of Health's Immunization Program.
In the past, parents had 8 months to catch-up.
"If you think about it, that's really almost the entire school year," she said.
And that may have allowed more cases of preventable diseases into schools.
This year, there are 2 other requirements:
- A 4th dose of polio vaccine on or after a child's 4th birthday
- All 12th graders need a 2nd dose of meningitis vaccine.
Those bring the state in line with current CDC recommendations.
Just this week, one outpatient center with the Children's Hospital did more than 50 polio shots and more than 100 meningitis shots.
At St. Christopher's Hospital, they're actively looking through patient registries and reaching out to families who need immunizations, and calling them to schedule an appointment.
CHOP has vaccine clinics into September, including Saturdays. Patients already in the system can walk in with no appointment needed.
Philadelphia and other county health departments also have immunization clinics.
- In Philadelphia, visit: phila.gov/health. Parents and caregivers can find answers to frequently asked questions, find out out how to get their child's immunization records, or find a place to get shots.
- In Montgomery County, visit: www.montcopa.org. Clinics will be held Mondays at the Norristown Health Center from 9A-6P, Wednesday from 2:30P-6:00P at Pottstown Health Center, and Thursdays from 9A-12P at the Willow Grove Eastern Courthouse Annex. Appointments are required.
- In Chester County, visit: chesco.org.
- In Delaware County, visit: www.co.delaware.pa.us.
- In Bucks County, visit: buckscounty.org/government/healthservices.