High school seniors urged to get no-cost vaccines for college before school year ends or before they turn 19

Health Department staff recommends a variety of immunizations

An aerial view shows the location of the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, near Payne Park in Sarasota. Image from Google Maps

Local public health and Sarasota County School District leaders are reminding high school seniors to get their immunizations updated before graduating or turning 19.

Vaccines are only available at no charge through the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program while a student is enrolled in high school or younger than 19, a Health Department news release points out. “The cost of vaccines required for college entry for those who are no longer eligible for the VFC program can be significantly more than $600,” it adds. “By acting now, families can save money, meet college requirements, and avoid the last minute summer rush,” the release says.

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) immunization clinics in Sarasota and North Port offer no-cost vaccines to young people still in school or under age 19 whose health insurance plans do not cover vaccines, the release notes. “Families who have insurance … will also get [vaccines] free of charge if they show proof of insurance,” it says. “No co-pays will be charged for those who get children’s vaccines at DOH-Sarasota.”

Parents who decide to get their children vaccinated at pediatricians’ offices are encouraged to check to see if the doctors are VFC providers and whether an administration fee and/or co-pay is charged, the release points out.

Many colleges and universities, including Florida public universities and colleges, require proof of updated vaccinations for enrollment and/or dormitory living, the release explains.

Two of the recommended vaccines “offer safe and effective protection against the most common and serious forms of bacterial meningitis (Men ACWY and Men B),” the release says. Other recommended vaccines are TDaP (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis, or whooping cough) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the release adds. Health officials also encourage college-bound students to get the Hepatitis A vaccine and the second dose of the Varicella vaccine, which protects against chickenpox.

“The protection offered through some vaccines wanes over time, so certain vaccines need to be repeated to maintain an adequate level of immunity,” the release notes.

Immunizations are available Monday through Friday at DOH-Sarasota locations. Health officials say early-morning hours are usually best for walk-in patients; appointments are also available. Parents must accompany those under age 18, the release says. Patients are advised to bring previous shot record and insurance cards, as well.

The locations follow:

  • William L. Little Health & Human Services Center, located at 2200 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota; walk-in services begin at 7:30 a.m. Call for hours or to request an appointment: 861-2784.
  • North Port Health Center, located at 6950 Outreach Way in North Port. Call for hours or to request an appointment: 861-3864.

For additional details, call the School Health Office at 927-9000, Ext. 32101. Parents also may visit www.sarasotahealth.org or the school district website, www.sarasotacountyschools.net.

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