- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 27, 2002

Parents of thousands of public school students spent a frustrating day getting their children inoculated yesterday, with most saying they hadn't intentionally ignored the city's call to immunize their children. Some had to work, some didn't get the message until recently and some correctly as it turned out blamed poor record keeping by the D.C. school system.
Skies may have been sunny but parents weren't smiling especially those at Raymond Elementary School in Northwest who gave up a good part of their day off proving to officials what they already knew, that their children's shots were already up to date.
As of Friday, parents of about 6,000 students still had not taken their children to be immunized. For the past two weeks clinics have been opened across the city to meet a Jan. 25 deadline imposed by the Board of Education last November.
Those who weren't immunized over the weekend will not be allowed into the classroom tomorrow. Instead they'll be ushered into their school's auditorium and their parents will be called to come pick up their children and take him to the nearest clinic then they'll be allowed back in school.
From 4 p.m. Friday until 2:30 p.m. yesterday, 650 children had been immunized at D.C. General's 24-hour immunization site.
At Raymond Elementary, there was a smaller, but steady, stream of parents and children. By 12:30 p.m. the site processed 51 families not all of them happy as they waited in the first-floor auditorium. But they all breathed a sigh of relief when they left, knowing tomorrow they wouldn't be called to the principal's office.
The Department of Health established a 24-hour clinic and records clearninghouse at DC General Hospital in Southeast that will operate through tomorrow. "This is a significant marshalling of resources," Dr. Michael Richardson, the senior deputy director of health said yesterday.
"I still think we have a ways to go. Five thousand or six thousand [children who haven't been immunized] is still significant," he said.
Rosabel Espinal and her son, Jose, 10, made the trek to the Northwest elementary school for nothing his mother presented medical records to Department of Health officials that cleared him to return to class tomorrow. The fifth grader who attends Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Northwest said he told his teacher he had been immunized and his shots were current. His mother had the proof in her hands yesterday medical documentation.
"My teacher didn't believe me. I told her that I didn't need shots. So today me, my mom and my sister came here and found out that I didn't need the shots," Jose said.
Frustration was written all over Veronica Granabos' face as she parked her burgundy van in front of the school. Ms. Granabos, 23, said she called her daughter's school Tuesday to make sure everything was OK. She was told everything was in order. Then the school called her Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. and told her things were not OK. Her 5-year-old daughter's records were not current, she was told. Gabriella needed another shot.
"I'm just so glad that I have weekends off. I need to give two weeks' notice to take leave. I would have appreciated earlier notice from the school. Gabriella already had a shot to protect her from measles, mumps and rubella, but the school said she needed a second measles shot.
So there they were yesterday waiting their turn. Also waiting was Janice Kyle and her son, Brandon, 17, who attends Dunbar Senior High School in Northwest. Mrs. Kyle said she was just glad she found out she needed to get Brandon to a clinic, quickly.


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