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How Alachua County Students Can Receive Free Vaccines

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Desiree Ivey is an incoming seventh grader who needed the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine to go back to school.

Ivey also needed a varicella shot she was missing to prevent chicken pox. She said she was only expecting to get the Tdap shot, but the shots didn’t cause much pain.

“It was OK. The second one sort of stung a little, and the first one I didn’t really feel anything,” she said.

Without the Vaccines for Children Program, her mother, Sonya Kong, would have paid $66 for the Tdap shot and $138 for the varicella shot at the Alachua County Health Department.

The program gives children free shots up to the age of 18. If children have health insurance, their insurance companies will only be billed vaccine administrative fees. The vaccines are given at no cost.

Linda Barrett-Jakeway of the Alachua County Health Department administers a vaccine recently.
Linda Barrett-Jakeway of the Alachua County Health Department administers a vaccine recently.

Alachua County Health Department Immunization Coordinator Michael Smith said vaccines are required to stop the spread of diseases.

“There are a lot of preventable illnesses out there that can be stopped simply from being vaccinated against the disease,” Smith said.

The vaccination program also accepts children regardless of their immigration status or their parent’s status.

Alachua County Health Department Medical Executive Director Dr. John Colon said the department requires multiple forms of identification.

“We ask for three forms of IDs, which can be a car tag, it could be a school paper. Anything to identify the person, but if they don’t, some kind of picture ID will be sufficient,” said Colon.

The department accepts foreign birth certificates, school IDs and any other form of picture IDs.

Students from kindergarten to 12th grade are required to have certain immunizations, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Smith said religious beliefs are the only exception to immunizations with approval from the county’s health department.

“We wouldn’t want the child to go to school their first day and find out that they’re not properly vaccinated, then be sent home,” said Smith.

To obtain free school vaccines, visit the Alachua County Health Department Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a news editor for WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native but has found a home reporting Florida's stories.

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