- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

Parents with children in tow made a beeline to immunization clinics in the District yesterday, even as school officials announced that more than 4,000 students were still not in compliance with inoculation requirements.

Students who had not received their shots were being kept out of D.C. public schools, which opened Tuesday.

Parents at the clinics said they didn't want their children to miss another day of school.

"I came here today because I want them back in school," said Sharonn Simmons, who accompanied her four teenagers to the Anthony Bowen YMCA in Northwest, where a D.C. Department of Health immunization clinic was set up earlier this week.

More than 5,000 students were not allowed to attend classes Tuesday because their inoculation status was not clear. Yesterday, a school spokesman said 4,074 students still had not been immunized.

Earlier this year, the D.C. Board of Education ruled that students would not be allowed into classes unless their parents provided proof of immunization prior to the start of school.

The Department of Health and D.C. public schools have stepped up immunization efforts by continuing to provide free clinics.

Miss Simmons said she was aware her children needed several shots and had made doctor's appointments, but the appointments were scheduled for much later this month.

She said she was relieved to know she could bring her children to the immunization clinic at Bowen.

Patricia Tate also visited the YMCA to get shots for her son, James, 15, who attends Browne Junior High School, and to obtain documentation for school administrators.

The Department of Health kept the lines moving at Bowen and the wait was relatively short. Nearly 700 students were immunized at the clinic on Tuesday. Parents registered their children at a parking lot next door to the YMCA, completed forms and were seated under a canopy until health department personnel escorted them into the building. The Department of Health provided fruit and water.

"Everything went very smoothly. On Tuesday, the school supplied me with the address of the immunization clinic. Now, he can return to classes tomorrow," Ms. Tate said with a smile. She said she felt better now that she knew exactly what shots her son required and there was no misunderstanding.

"I have his [immunization] documentation in hand. I was told he needs one more hepatitis shot in two months and that will complete the series," she said.

Last month, the D.C. school system mailed out letters on immunization requirements to the homes of all of its 68,000 students.

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