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Health fair aims to encourage families to get school age kids vaccinated

Virus Outbreak Pediatric Vaccines
Ted S. Warren/AP
Deborah Sampson, left, a nurse at a University of Washington Medical Center clinic in Seattle, gives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot to a 20-month-old child, June 21, 2022, in Seattle. The U.S. on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 open doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines for most children younger than age 5. The Food and Drug Administration's decision aims to better protect the littlest kids from severe COVID-19 at a time when children’s hospitals already are packed with tots suffering a variety of other respiratory illnesses, too. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Pediatric vaccinations in Florida are at an all-time low. To combat that, the Orange County Department of Health is hosting a family health fair this weekend, encouraging more families to get school age kids required vaccinations.

A Florida Department of Health report found only about 91 percent of kindergartners had gotten immunizations required for school enrollment. That’s a ten year low.

Maternal Child Health Division Director Penny Smith said that’s why free vaccinations will be available this weekend at the health fair, along with free health screenings.

“We’re seeing a major decrease in the rates since the pandemic," she said. "This type of event would hopefully reach those populations where we can improve our vaccination rates. This is very important because we're seeing so many different childhood emerging diseases come up and it's largely because kids are not vaccinated.”

Smith says the childhood illnesses they're seeing spikes in include measles and mumps, RSV, and meningitis.

"We will have a health team there that will answer parents’ questions. We have a health team that will be actually administering the vaccines as well as the screenings with the students and they'll be there to answer any questions that they have.”

In order to take advantage of vision, hearing, BMI, scoliosis, and growth and development screenings on site, a parent or guardian must fill out a consent form.

Free lunch will also be provided at the event. The event will be held on Saturday at Xperience Live, 6387 West Colonial Drive, Orlando from 11 am until 3 pm.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan and is a graduate of both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys playing her guitar, writing fiction, and cooking.
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