Braden Barton, 5, reaches for a handful of candy at the Los Pasitos Learning Center booth during the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Division of Health annual Free Community Health Fair, Saturday, at the Roswell Boys & Girls Club. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Parents preparing to send their children back to school showed up in droves at the free community health fair Saturday at the Roswell Boys & Girls Club for vaccinations, physicals and a host of fitness assessments.
By 10 a.m., just an hour into the fair, about 20 kids had received vaccinations that are mandatory to register for schools in New Mexico, like the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis vaccine, also called the Tdap vaccine, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine series, hepatitis B, varicella and polio vaccines. Immunization requirements dif fer depending on age, grade and number of vaccine doses.
â€œFor school entry, they have to have their vaccinations, or the school wonâ€™t register them,â€ said Carol Larez, the New Mexico Department of Health nurse manager for Chaves County.
Waivers can be granted for those whose religious beliefs do not permit the administration of vaccine or other immunizing agent. Larez noted that all shot records are updated at the health fair on the spot, and that the health fair provides a free alternative for parents who are not enrolled in Medicaid or who do not have a private health insurance provider.
â€œIf youâ€™re paying out-ofpocket, vaccinations can be quite expensive,â€ she said. Parents looking to avoid paying $75 for a sports physical, the average cost through a primary care provider, or $30 in doctor office fees, brought their children to the fair for a physical, which is required in order to play on a sports team in school. Ten to 15 students had physicals by mid-morning.
â€œWeâ€™re trying to expose the community to resources within the community, and providing some really necessary services right now, like vaccinations and physicals,â€ Jane Batson, the dean of the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Division of Health, said.
Saturdayâ€™s fair marked the 29th annual back-toschool health fair held in Roswell. Usually, the fair costs about $2,000 to host, Batson said, but this year sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield donated $2,000, as well as provided blood pressure tests and health information.
The five other sponsors this year were Chaves County Health Planning Council, Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, ENMU-R, New Mexico DOT and Roswell Regional Hospital.
More than 30 participants in the community had booths inside the Boys & Girls Club and provided screenings for blood sugar testing, hemoglobin and hematocrit, height and weight measurements, body fat screening and counseling and referral services.
One popular tent was the Kids Vitamin Club, a new project by local pharmacy owner Charles Shannon, of Primm Drug, that donates free vitamins for kids ages 4 to 12. They receive a monthâ€™s worth of multi-vitamins for a year when they sign up. For more information about Kids Vitamin Club, call 622-6571.