The Indiana Department of Health, along with local health departments and other statewide health care entities, have launched the Start Smart campaign to promote immunization clinics. This is the campaign’s second year.
The campaign provides a map with a list of dates, times and locations for various vaccine clinics throughout the state, aimed to help families get their children required and recommended vaccines before the 2023-24 school year. Some vaccine clinics provide a one-time date and time for immunization while others are held weekly.
Dave McCormick is the director of the Immunization Division at the Indiana Department of Health. He said this campaign functions to spread awareness about vaccines and get all children ready for the school year.
“We know that kids are behind on the routine immunizations,” he said. “Some of those are just out of sight, out of mind. You don't realize what's even due until you start thinking about going back to school.”
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McCormick said this is one of the biggest initiatives his division has done for school-aged children.
“Start Smart is something that we came up with last year to try to get kids into a provider's office or a clinic before school started,” he said. “We have identified around 475,000 kids across the state of Indiana that need one or more vaccines for starting school.”
IDOH will also mail letters to families of children who are not up to date on required vaccines based on state immunization records. Required immunizations vary on grade and include shots for diseases like polio, chickenpox and measles.
McCormick said these letters were particularly helpful during last year’s campaign.
“We saw 49 percent of the kids that we sent letters to receive one or more vaccines in a four-month time frame,” he said.
McCormick said there are still students who may not be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. He said most children still do receive these vaccines and that any information about vaccination clinics in schools is shared with parents.
The clinics within the campaign are open to children ages 5 and older. Families are encouraged to bring insurance information to the clinics, but they will not be charged at the clinics.