Inside Kentucky Health
The waiting rooms at the offices of pediatricians and primary care physicians are most likely filled this month with anxious children, especially those going into kindergarten and 6th grade, the years when students must show proof that they’ve had required vaccines.
Students attending any Jefferson County Public School must have a valid immunization certificate on file within two weeks of the first day of classes. This certificate must be a Kentucky State Immunization Certificate and must be current.
“We encourage everyone to have a primary physician and to get their vaccines from their doctor,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, interim director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “A lot of kids in the past died from disease before age 5, but these immunizations prevent that.”
Moyer said she recommends every child get not only the minimum requirements in terms of immunization, but that children continue to receive “wellchild checkups” throughout their early years.
Those wellchild checkups go beyond immunizations and physical exams, and provide early screening for learning disabilities and many other potential problems. She said the wellchild checkups can often provide advice for children who may be susceptible to obesity by providing tips on diet and exercise.
JCPS also requires students have a full physical exam to check all parts of the body. By Jan. 1, all students must also have eye and dental exams performed by a doctor. These exams are one-time requirements.
“In Kentucky, 95 to 99 percent of kindergarten and 6th-grade students have their shots by the time school starts,” said Moyer. “Most get them over the summer, which is why it may be really hard to get appointments right now.”
For people who do not have a primary care physician (PCP), Moyer said her department offers two clinics that provide the required vaccinations, although they have limited schedules.
The Public Health Department offers immunizations:
- On Fridays, at its headquarters downtown at 400 E. Gray St. (hours: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.). Telephone 574-6617.
- On Tuesdays, at the Newburg clinic at 4810 Exeter Avenue (hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Telephone 458-0778.
- If you’re interested, you must call to make an appointment.
The cost is $10 for those without insurance. For those with insurance, the Public Health Department will bill the insurer.
In Kentucky, Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services are mandated by the federal government and provided to all Medicaid-eligible children at specific ages. Because they are considered preventive, there is no cost to the child’s family for these screenings, which include preventive check-ups, growth and development assessments, vision tests, hearing tests, dental checks, immunizations, and laboratory tests.
According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, children should receive health checkups regularly or before the following ages: 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 30 months, and every year from age 3 through 20.
In general, the best advice for parents is to get an appointment set for their children before school starts and make sure the primary care physician provides all the necessary checkups and shots. It’s a good way to get the school year off to a good start.