The practicing of preventing deadly and debilitating illness through vaccination is currently under attack in the United States, but the Children's Museum of Houston has partnered with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services in order to make injections free to children as part of "National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW)".
"The Children's Museum of Houston provides community services through our outreach programs or through partnerships like the Houston Care Van program," said public relations and promotions director Henry Yau via email. "In fact, every August we launch a huge back-to-school vaccination initiative with Texas Children's Hospital. We offer these type of events during our Free Family Night Thursdays so families who could not afford to visit could benefit from the resources we offer."
The children who qualify for the injections are those not currently covered through Medicaid, CHIPS, or private insurance. Vaccines available include Hepatitis A & B, Meningitis, PCV 13, Dtap, Tdap (Tetanus), HPV, Polio and Rotavirus. All are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and interested parties are encouraged to arrive early while supplies last. Admission to the museum is free, and the exhibit halls are open late until 8 p.m.
Vaccine skepticism has become a prominent problem in America ever since a study showed a possible like between autism and childhood vaccinations. The study was later retracted as flawed, misleading, and untrue, but it sparked a movement away from vaccines that has seen diseases previously thought eliminated here begin to re-infect the population.
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In September of last year the parishioners of a Dallas megachurch that encouraged its followers to put their faith in God rather than vaccines suffered an outbreak of measles after one member contracted the disease returning from Indonesia. All 21 of those infected had been unvaccinated. Before the MMR vaccine was released in 1971, there were about 500,000 cases of measles a year in America and more than 500 deaths.
Promoting the effectiveness of vaccines and making them available to children across all economic strata is an important part of protecting the health of the community.
"At the Children's Museum of Houston, our mission is to transform communities through innovative child-centered learning," said Yau. "There is a profound need for outreach and resources that bring healthcare and educational opportunities to disenfranchised families. An event like this one is so important because it allows us to fulfill our mission and address a community need."
Free Immunization Night takes place at the Children's Museum of Houston on May 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Children under 18-years-old are eligible for shots, and they must bring their current immunization record.