TERRE HAUTE —
Friday morning, Krissy Shepard filled out paperwork as she sat on the bleachers of the Terre Haute South Vigo High School auxiliary gym.
Nearby, her 5-year-old son, Connor, waited for something he probably wasn’t too excited about — a chickenpox vaccination.
Connor was among hundreds of Vigo County School Corp. students and staff receiving vaccinations as part of clinic organized in response to a countywide chickenpox outbreak.
Health Commissioner Enrico Garcia declared the outbreak last week.
Starting Tuesday, all VCSC staff born after 1980 and all students not “optimally immunized” must be excluded for 21 days from the last documented case at that school, officials have said.
That’s a directive from the state Department of Health, said Ray Azar, VCSC director of student services. “We really don’t want to do that, but we have no choice,” he said.
Those students and staff who couldn’t attend Friday have the opportunity to attend another free clinic today, which will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the South gym.
For most students, being optimally immunized means a second dose of the vaccination.
For Connor, who has never had a chickenpox vaccine, one dose met the “optimally immunized” definition to stay in school, although he’ll have to get a second dose in the future. He attends preschool at West Vigo Elementary.
Shepard said her son would have had to get the vaccine anyway before he starts kindergarten. “I don’t want him bringing it [chickenpox] home,” she said. She has one other child, age 11.
“I’m glad to have it taken care of,” Shepard said.
The school district anticipated up to 1,000 students who were under-vaccinated or not vaccinated at all, as well as 276 staff, officials said.
By the end of the day, 394 doses of vaccine had been administered, said Joni Wise, Vigo County Health Department administrator.
At Friday’s clinic, parents were asked to accompany elementary-aged children, while secondary students were bused in.
“It’s going smoothly,” Azar said.
The Vigo County Health Department and school district organized the clinic, with assistance from many agencies: Indiana Department of Health; Vigo County Emergency Management Agency; Vigo County Sheriff’s Department; Red Cross; Indiana State University and Ivy Tech nursing programs and nurses from Union and Regional hospitals.
Ace Washer Supplies donated the use of a 14-cubic-foot freezer to store the vaccine. The freezer stored about $500,000 worth of vaccine, Wise said.
Also awaiting a shot Friday was Cheyanne Wirth, a sophomore at West Vigo High School. While it was inconvenient, “I think it’s good they are bringing people together to get the shot, so they don’t get the illness,” she said.
Today’s free shot clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. is for those VCSC students and staff who could not attend Friday’s clinic; also, it is for any Vigo County child older than one year and younger than six that still needs to be optimally immunized against chickenpox. This includes children in pre-k and daycare.
The clinic will be conducted in the school’s gymnasium, with the entrance doors facing the south side parking lot.
The child’s current immunization record is required.