Area clinics are offering free immunizations over the next few weeks to Metro school students not able to start the 2012-2013 school year without them.
Immunizations are standard for students of all ages, especially those entering school for the first time or going into the seventh grade.
State law requires every child in Tennessee schools to have an updated shot record.
"It allows our nurses and pediatrician offices to know what shots your child has had and what shots they need," said Metro Health Department spokesperson Brian Todd.
He continued, "It's especially important if you don't have one. Then your child would have to start all over again, which means they may get five or six shots in that one day."
As of 2010, TDAP boosters were added to the required immunizations for seventh graders to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough. To help parents adjust to the changes and to get students school-ready, the Metro Health Department hosted Fast Track clinics, a one-stop-shop with extended hours for free immunizations.
This year, Metro Health Centers are open normal hours and continue to offer free shots.
"We know that the immunizations that we're talking about now are preventing such diseases as measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, things that we rarely see today in children in Davidson County, and it's because we're able to prevent them with these immunizations," Todd said.
United Neighborhood Health Services is also offering free immunizations and physicals for students this year. The physicals are being offered in response to a statewide push for routine examinations to ensure the overall health of each child.
The Metro Health Department does not have the staffing to offer physicals, but supports the idea.
"It's very good and very important for every child of any age to have a well-child exam, especially when we are dealing with asthma or diabetes," Todd said. "The quicker that you bring them in, get the well-child exam, really the better health you're going to have with your child, in addition to being property immunized."
Metro Nashville Public Schools do not require physicals for student admission. However, if a student cannot provide an updated shot record within five days from the start of the school year, that student will be sent home until the record can be provided.
The Metro Health Department offers free immunizations Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at its three public health centers located at 311 East Trinity Lane, 224 Oriel Avenue and 311 23rd Avenue. The clinics accept walk-ins.
United Neighborhood Health Services offers free immunizations and physicals to uninsured and TennCare recipients Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at its clinics located at 1223 Dickerson Road, 905 Main Street and 1101 Charles David Boulevard.
Metro students return to the classroom on August 1.