HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-The battle against some age-old diseases is taking a new twist in Madison County, with the county health department now giving parents the choice of having their children immunized right at school.
The shots-at-school program launched Tuesday. Around two-dozen students at Madison County Elementary in Gurley took advantage of the new program, which administers a free booster shot that guarantees immunity from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Alabama law requires that students receive the shot before they enter the sixth grade of a public school.
Madison County School System Head Nurse Jan Ward said the program will save parents both time and money.
"This is an opportunity for students to receive their vaccine here at school, free of charge," said Ward. "There's a term called herd immunity, and as more people choose not to be immunized, the herd immunity is then minimized and breached."
The shots-at-school program comes at the same time as an outbreak of measles that's struck parts of the U.S., but there are have been no reports of any measles cases in Alabama. Even so, MCHD Chief Health Officer Dr. Lawrence Robey said it's a good reminder to make sure you and your family are fully vaccinated from the once-feared disease that's been virtually non-existent for several years now.
"People say 'Why should I get the vaccine?' The reason you get the vaccine is because we're not isolated from the rest of the world," said Robey. "Huntsville is a very cosmopolitan community, we have a lot of businesses that have connections in other countries. So it's always possible that measles or another disease could be imported into this area, and we're constantly on the lookout for it."
Here's a full list of schools that the Madison County Health Department will visit over the next several days:
Owens Cross Roads
Madison County Elementary
Madison Cross Roads
Hampton Cove Elementary & Middle
Williams Elementary & Middle
Martin Luther King