Dr. Bang: Vaccines are good, but don’t forego check-ups

Published 2:06 am Saturday, March 9, 2019

A local pediatrician has raised concerns about a vaccination program being offered in the Andalusia, Opp and Covington County school systems next week, but school administrators say the program has been endorsed by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The three systems have partnered with Health Heroes to offer:

• Tdap – Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis: Ages 11-12 (also 10 years old and entering 6th grade)

• HPV – Human Papillomavirus: Ages 11-12 with a second dose after 6 months

• MCV – Meningococcal ACWY: Ages 11-12 with a booster dose recommended at age 16

The vaccines can’t be administered without parental permission.

Dr. Bagwhan Bang on Friday said that it is good idea to vaccinate everyone and the intention of the school systems is good.

However, he said, many parents don’t take their children to the pediatrician for well visits, and for those children, getting a vaccination for school might provide a rare chance to identify problems.

For instance, he said, obesity is becoming more prevalent among young teens.

“I have three diabetic patients who are in middle school,” he said. “Diabetes is rising with obesity. The chance for me to see identify that goes away if the patients don’t come here because they are vaccinated at school.

“It is not a good idea to do that, in my opinion,” he said. “The well child check-up is an important part of our work.”

But Andalusia Superintendent Ted Watson said both the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). A letter from the ADPH’s state health officer Scott Harris, M.D., M.P.H., and State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey to local superintendents encouraged participation in the clinics. The letter also said school-based vaccine providers would distribute flyers emphasizing the importance of teen well visits at the request of the Alabama  American Academy of Pediatrics and the Alabama American Academy of Family Physicians.

As of Friday morning, Watson said, only 16 students had returned consent forms in the Andalusia school system.

Earlier in the week, Melinda Carrasco, lead nurse for Andalusia City Schools, said in the past parents have had difficulty scheduling vaccine appointments in the summer, because physicians get overloaded attempting to update all vaccines before school begins.

The vaccines will be provided for all children who request them.