Health

Vaccine shortage hits El Paso as students go back to school

Vaccine shortage

EL PASO, Texas - A partial vaccine shortage is making it difficult for some El Paso County students to return to school this semester. Immunize El Paso has run out of state-funded meningitis, TDAT, HPV, MCV4, Hepatitis A, Varicella, and MMR vaccines.

Texas law mandates that students keep up with their immunizations and the state helps pay for them when families can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars, but right now it's those state-funded vaccines that can't be found around the borderland.

"For private pay and self-funded patients, we have the whole slew of vaccines that are required. For state-funded vaccine patients we have the majority of them; however, we don't have the meningitis as well as TDAP vaccines," said Dusty Warden with Immunize El Paso.

Warden says the shortage is due to a delay by the state restocking clinics.

Agencies like his have enough vaccines for those with private insurance or self-pay, but the state doesn't allow them to mix inventories.

"You really can't shift private stock vaccine with publicly funded vaccine. They prefer to keep a clear delineation between the two stocks," Warden said. Otherwise, agencies won't be reimbursed.

As the final round of borderland students gets ready to head back to class, many are still missing essential state-mandated immunizations.

One mother told ABC-7 she was able to get one of the last meningitis vaccines for her daughter, but they're still missing a booster shot.

"I just came, again, this is my second time, I just came here to pick up an extension letter and hopefully her school takes it," said Lorena Salcedo.

The shortage is something local schools are aware of and they're making sure it doesn't stop kids from being in class come Monday.

"As long as the students bring us a valid letter from the clinic or from Immunize El Paso the students can enroll, and then the nurses will help remind the parents," said Carey Raymond-Holden, with YISD Student Health Services.

The YISD extension allows students 30 days to get their vaccinations in order.

KVIA has reached out to UTEP and EPISD to see if they also allow for extensions. UTEP tells ABC-7 they will work with students on a case-by-case basis.


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