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Back to school immunizations: What you need to know

By Lori Newman | Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs | Aug. 11, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Whether children physically attend classes or participate in online learning this fall, getting their scheduled immunizations remains an important part of back-to-school planning.

The San Antonio Military Health System stands ready to help parents meet their children’s immunization and vaccination requirements, as well as back-to-school and sports physicals.

“Brooke Army Medical Center and the entire SAMHS have been working together in the primary care setting to maintain access to immunizations for our patients,” said Army Col. Timothy Switaj, chief, Department of Family and Community Medicine at BAMC.


“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the process is different and may change throughout the course of the summer and early fall based on the burden in our area,” Switaj said. “Clinics are working hard to ensure that our patients have access to timely immunizations.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. However, following the arrival of COVID-19 the medical community has seen a decrease in the use of routine preventive medical services, including immunization services. Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages.

“Ensuring that routine vaccination is continued during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting our children and our community as a whole from vaccine-preventable illnesses,” said Army Maj. Kayla Jaeger, chief of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at BAMC. “By preventing these illnesses, together we can work to decrease unnecessary medical visits, hospitalizations and strain to the healthcare system at BAMC and across the San Antonio Military Health System.”

“This is going to become especially important during the upcoming influenza season,” she added. “Getting the influenza vaccine on time, when released in the early fall, will be essential to reducing the impact of respiratory illnesses in our community and also reducing the resulting burden on our healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to HealthyChildren.org, most childhood vaccines are 90 to 99 percent effective in preventing disease. And, if a vaccinated child does get the disease, the symptoms are usually less serious than in a child who hasn’t been vaccinated.

For the CDC’s 2020 recommended child and adolescent immunization schedules, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html

How to Schedule an Appointment

To schedule a virtual appointment for your child for any routine or acute concern, beneficiaries are encouraged to call CAMO at 210-916-9900. At this time, each individual clinic is scheduling its own face-to-face encounters.

“There are several ways to get into contact with your clinic to schedule a face-to-face appointment for immunizations or a needed health maintenance visit,” Switaj said. “Parents can schedule an appointment by calling CAMO to leave a telephone message for their child’s Primary Care Management team, can send a secure message, using Tricare Online Secure Messaging, or call their child’s primary care clinic to coordinate a face-to-face appointment for immunizations if the clinic does not offer walk-in services.”

For children enrolled in the BAMC General Pediatric Clinic, the Schertz Medical Home, the Westover Hills Medical Home, or the Taylor Burk Clinic, immunizations will be given in conjunction with a booked appointment. Any immunizations needed in conjunction with a well-baby visit or well-child physical (4- and 11-year-olds) should have the well visit first in order to receive immunizations.

For patients enrolled in the Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine Clinic, immunizations can be given in conjunction with a booked appointment or are available on a walk-in basis Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., or Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Enrolled patients can also walk-in for repeat Depo-Provera injections or screening/treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

For patients enrolled in the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Pediatric Clinic, immunizations can be completed on a walk-in basis at the WHASC Immunization Clinic, located on 3rd floor D wing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., or Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Immunizations are also available on a walk-in basis at the Randolph Pediatric Clinic Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Additional Safety Precautions

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all patients and family members entering any Joint Base San Antonio facility will be expected to wear a face mask and practice social distancing.

All patients, 18 years and older, are expected to enter the clinic alone. Patients under 18 years old are allowed one person to accompany them. If necessary, the provider can call the parent/guardian who’s waiting outside for any specific concerns.

If there are any forms that will need to be completed by the provider during the visit (physical forms, etc.), parents are asked to have their portion of the forms completed prior to the appointment and to bring the forms to the appointment.

If anyone attending the appointment develops signs or symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting or shortness of breath, the appointment should be rescheduled for when they are feeling well.