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The time for school vaccinations is now

Health experts encourage school vaccinations now
Simon Maina
AFP via Getty Images
Health experts encourage school vaccinations now.

It is hard to believe, but public school will be starting in just over six weeks across Montana.

Yellowstone Public Radio’s Orlinda Worthington shares an important item to add to your back-to-school shopping list.

Heading back to school is the last thing on the minds of these kids playing in the Pioneer Park Pool in Billings. But health experts warn that immunizations should be the first thing on the minds of their parents.

Brenda Koch the immunization program manager at RiverStone Health in Billings. She says, “It's really critical that parents have this on their radar and get scheduled now. Because we will fill up and then there's the chance that your kids aren't going to have what they need when school starts. And they will send kids home on the first day.”

Unvaccinated students cannot return to school until they get their shots unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

Koch realizes some parents are concerned about reactions to vaccinations, partly because there's a lot of misinformation on the internet.

“ I know in my 20 plus years here, very seldom do we see reactions. You're going to get a sore arm, maybe a headache, tired, um, but for the most part, vaccines are proven safe and effective,” she said.

Vaccinations are covered by insurance and medicaid, but Koch says but the cost or lack of insurance should never be a barrier.

“There's a federally funded program, Vaccines for Children. So no kids should go without the immunizations that they need. And if payment, if the co-pay is too much for you, we can help with that as well,” Koch said.

Covid 19 vaccines are not required, but still recommended. Immunizations needed vary by age. Contact your doctor or your county health department for information on requirements and the free vaccination program.

Orlinda Worthington hosts “Morning Edition” weekdays on YPR. She brings 20 years of experience as Montana television news anchor, producer, and reporter.