KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department is trying to prevent students from being sent home this fall, in part, by holding a walk-in vaccination clinic.
Frank Thompson, KCMO Health Department deputy director, told 41 Action News many children are behind on their immunizations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Just based on the kids we normally would have seen over the course of the year, we know there are a lot of kids that are past due for vaccinations," Thompson said.
In order to get children back on track, the health department's clinic Saturday at Smith-Hale Middle School will not require appointments. However, a parent or guardian must be present in order for a child to be vaccinated.
“If we want to keep kids in school for the coming year doing in-person learning, which for us is a priority, we've got to get kids one, their regular immunizations, two, for those who are eligible, a COVID vaccination," Thompson said.
Health department officials said they expect a mixture of people in attendance, from children getting caught up on vaccines to others beginning vaccinations and eligible children receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
While there has been some hesitancy, health officials still are urging people 12 years old and older to be vaccinated against the virus.
National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said a lot of people in their 20s and 30s have been admitted to intensive-care or have died because of COVID-19. More than 300 children also have died from the virus, he said.
“So anyone that tries to tell you that it's not big deal for kids, it certainly can be," Collins said, "and why would you want to take that risk if you don't have to?"
In Kansas and Missouri, vaccination rates are below the national average, and Missouri is one of the states leading in the number of weekly new cases.
“We are creeping back up to have 100 news cases per day," Thompson said.
Vaccinations at Saturday's event will be free for Kansas City, Missouri, children.
For those who can't make it to the clinic, appointments can be made with the health department by calling (816) 513-6108.