Caring Van offers students and parents free COVID-19 vaccinations, enrollment immunizations

TULSA, Okla. — As Oklahoma students prepare to head back to class, they also need to make sure their school enrollment immunizations are up-to-date.

The Oklahoma Caring Van and the Tulsa County Health Department came together to run an immunization clinic at Union Public Schools’ 6th and 7th Grade Center.

The service, which provides immunizations required for school enrollment at no fee for those who qualify, had 122 students come through Monday.

While the clinic also offered free COVID-19 vaccinations to children and parents, there were no takers Monday. According to Union High School’s Public Information Officer Chris Payne, COVID-19 vaccinations are highly recommended for students, but they are no required by the district.

Students have to make sure they’re up-to-date on their immunizations in order to pick up their class schedules.

Those wishing to enter the 7th grade in just nine days need to make sure they’re up-to-date on their T-Dap vaccine — Tetanus, Diphtheria and whooping cough.

Lead Nurse Debbie Furgerson said some children have fallen behind on their immunizations during the pandemic.

“If they were virtual students and didn’t participate in those clinics, some did not keep up with vaccinations if doctor’s offices weren’t open,” Furgerson explained.

While Furgerson said medical and religious exemptions are allowed, there’s an official process that the parent or legal guardian must go through, that involves filling out an official form with the District, that in turn has to be approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Amy Pulliam, who is the manager of the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, explained why it’s important for students to stay current on their immunizations.

“It’s important that children stay up-to-date on their immunizations because they stay healthy, and then they keep others around [them] healthy, and so everybody can stay in school and learn,” Pulliam said.

Fergurson added that the state approves most requests, but lost records are not grounds for an exemption. Of the 2,300 kids who attended Union’s 6th and 7th Grade Center last year, she said about 50 students had exemptions.

The Caring Van will return to Union Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to administer vaccinations. Students will need to have their school enrollment immunizations up-to-date in order to pick up their school schedules.

For more information on where the Oklahoma Caring Van is heading next, you can check our their website.