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Families get children's shots up to date at Shots Across Texas event

Aug. 20, 2011 at 3:20 a.m.

Kacie Schmidt administers a shot in 12-year-old Tyler Garza's arm at Shots Across Texas held at Victoria College on Saturday. Tyler received four shots total and said they didn't hurt. Children 18 and under could receive free immunizations at the event.

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Shots were administered by nurses from South Texas Foundation for Nursing Excellence, Texas Nurses Association, Student Nurse Association and Citizens Medical Center.

Shots Across Texas was supported by the Victoria Generals and Chick-fil-A by in-kind donations and Victoria College opened its campus, provided resources and helped with set up for the event.

Crystal Garcia said she completed all her pre-school shopping in advance to avoid the rush. Last, but far from least, she brought her 4-year-old son, Jack Holst, to take advantage of the free vaccinations at the 18th annual Shots Across Texas Event at Victoria College on Saturday.

"He's starting school for the first time Monday," Garcia said.

The percentage of school-aged children with current vaccinations has always been in the high 90s. Since the start of the Shots Across Texas program, Victoria's rate for fully immunized children under the school age has increased from 40 percent to the high 70 percentile range.

"We're giving free vaccinations for children of all ages - babies, pre-school, school age and college," said JoAnne Settles, co-chairwoman of the Sunrise Rotary Club.

Shots Across Texas is one of at least five community service projects Northside Victoria Club and Sunrise Rotary Club combine their efforts to host each year.

Vaccinations are provided to families for free at Shots Across Texas events through the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Settles said 160 children's records were reviewed, resulting in about 300 doses of vaccinations administered at the event.

Garcia said she was looking forward to browsing the other informational booths after getting her son's shots up to date.

Families got their "passports" stamped at each of the 14 wellness stations featuring information about nutrition, exercise, safety, health and literacy to enter in a door prize drawing.

Among the informational booths, Dr. Ray Gonzales provided dental screenings and Dr. Amy Kirkpatrick provided vision screenings.

"We are filling in the gaps," Settles said. "Many families already have their own providers or get their vaccinations through the Health Department, but this is one more opportunity for families to get their children important vaccinations."

For many families, the Shots Across Texas event provides a convenient time and place to vaccinate children before the school year begins. Lisa Lopez brought her 12-year-old daughter Dystiny to get her shots.

"I have two jobs and it is hard for me to get to another place," Lopez said. "I don't know where else I'd go."

Lopez said her daughter is behind on several vaccinations.

"She's heading into the 7th grade, so she needs those important shots this year," Lopez said.

Shad Estes, a volunteer with the Northside Rotary Club, helped administer immunizations and monitor the waiting line.

"Are you scared?" Estes asked Dystiny as she waited in line with her mother.

"No, not at all," Dystiny answered with a smile.

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