Snow and rain didn’t stop anxious parents from trudging down to the Ninth Annual NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo at the Washington Convention Center yesterday to have their children immunized before the deadline Friday.
Inclement weather was the least of parents’ worries; the alternative posed a much bigger concern their children won’t be allowed to attend school on Monday, Jan. 28, if they have not received their shots by then. And so, parents and grandparents lined up in the bustling second-level hall.
A hurry-up citywide drive to immunize nearly 21,000 students more than a quarter of the D.C. student population began Jan. 6 under pressure from a school board edict that barred admission of unimmunized students to class.
D.C. public schools require that all students, including those in day care, receive DPT (diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus), OPV (oral polio vaccine), MMR (measles/mumps/ rubella), HIB (hemophilus influenza type B), HepB (hepatitis B) and varicella immunizations if they have not had chicken pox.
Department of Health personnel were out in force to administer the mandatory inoculations, to assist parents with forms and to print out information on which shots needed to be administered.
Shadona Jenkins struggled to free her 2-year-old daughter, Shakiya, from her snowsuit while waiting for the line to move. Ms. Jenkins, mother of two little girls, didn’t mind the wait, and Shakiya did not seem at all concerned.
The bright-eyed youngster looked around at the people thronging the expo for blood pressure and other health checkups, and to learn how to get their bodies in shape through exercise.
Ms. Jenkins, a resident of Northeast, said Children’s Hospital was taking too long to give an appointment for her daughter’s immunization. Shakiya had already gotten most of the shots required for her day care, but needed a tuberculin shot.
Major Stewart accompanied his grandson, Gregory Jackson, to the expo so the high school senior could get immunized. Mr. Stewart said he doesn’t want his grandson to miss even a day of school. Gregory, who attends Cardozo High School in Northwest, said he required only one shot.