MESA, AZ — According to Captain Michelle Denton from the Mesa Fire and Medical Department, since COVID-19 caused a shutdown throughout the community, four immunization clinics were canceled. Now, health officials are pushing for vaccinations across the East Valley to make up for lost time.
"Please, if you can, bring the kids, let's get them protected and protecting our community," says Nadine Miller, the Health Director for Mesa Public Schools. Saturday morning, she along with about 20 other health officials, including firefighters, members of the Maricopa County Health Department, and others gathered in North Mesa to bring a free vaccination event from 9 a.m. to noon.
"Anyone from 6 months old to 18 years old, we have a way of cross-checking what vaccines the child needs," says Captain Denton.
The event Saturday morning comes at a time when two key milestones are happening: students are returning to school and there is no current vaccine for the deadly COVID-19 virus.
"What we don't want is kids to end up having pertussis or whooping cough and then find out they get COVID on top of it, or we have some disease we can prevent like the flu, then we get COVID. The thought of that is going to be detrimental to our community and our kiddos," added Miller.
One of those parents who showed up at Saturday's free community event was Carol Arthur with her 11-year-old daughter Sivvy. We caught up with them as Sivvy was being vaccinated.
"School starts on Tuesday and my daughter needed her 11-year-old shot," says Arthur.
Sivvy is starting school online but regardless of where the instruction happens, Arther and Miller both agree, vaccines are necessary, as children are still out in the community and containing the spread of any other virus is important given how there is no current vaccine for COVID-19.
"We have to vaccinate, I mean we have this virus going around; who knows how many other viruses can start up again. If she has her vaccine, then I know she's taken care of," says Arthur.
Miller believes the lockdown situation our state saw in the Spring and the recent uptick in positive COVID-19 cases has kept kids at home, without visiting their doctor offices where they are likely to get vaccinated. She stresses the importance of events like this one as a way of keeping vaccines top of mind as we live during pandemic times.
"We are doing a big effort to push out to parents: don't forget just because your child isn't sitting in a brick and mortar building doesn't mean he or she doesn't need a vaccine. [Children] are still out in our communities and they are still out in grocery stores and we hope soon, they will be back in school."
The next vaccine drive will be held at Superstition Springs Mall on Wednesday, August 12 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. No pre-registration is needed.