Back-to-school physicals and immunizations are once again being offered by South Florida Baptist Hospital this weekend.
Though the upcoming school year is far from the minds of the nearly 200,000 children returning to class in Hillsborough County, parents are beginning to tackle the annual checklist of preparations needed for the first day of school.
The new school year starts August 10 and South Florida Baptist Hospital is making parents’ lives easier by once again joining the Hillsborough County Back to School Coalition to offer free physicals and school-required immunizations.
On July 21, any new students to Florida schools in grades K through 12 can come with their parent or legal guardian to the Swindle Medical Arts Center, 1601 W. Timberlane Drive, to take part in the event.
“The hospital sees it as a community benefit,” Heather Coats, supervisor of community health, said. “That’s why it’s important that we are part of the Hillsborough County Back to School Coalition. I personally have been coordinating this event since 2007.”
The physicals offered are required school screenings that include checking vision, blood pressure, height and weight. This does not include the sports, Head Start and child care physicals. Free school-required immunizations will also be available for uninsured children and parents need to bring an immunization record so the student can receive the shots.
Coats said it is important parents register in advance for the event at back2schoolfair.org. There are more than 150 appointments available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The deadline to register is Friday, July 20 by the end of the workday.
The immunizations are offered thanks to a partnership with St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety Center. Students will only need to go through this process when they first enroll in a Florida school and again when they enter seventh grade, Coats said.
The annual event allows all families to have the necessary school health screenings required to start school on time, regardless of if the child is insured or not. Those with insurance have these services covered and can go to their normal doctor or pediatrician. This is the first of the 2018 events hosted by the Hillsborough County Back to School Coalition.
Coats warned that the longer you wait to attend an event, the faster they fill up. She said historically at the Plant City event families rarely wait longer than an hour or an hour and a half, and when they are through they walk away with all the paperwork they will need to sign up for school.
The event is also much more than just a physical and immunization check. Thanks to partnerships with the community with groups like the South Florida Baptist Hospital Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Plant City, Suncoast Community Health Center and Healthy Start Coalition, the day is transformed into a one-stop-shop. The children will all be provided with free book bags and school supplies as well as get a variety of resources for family readiness.
Publix also helps sponsor the event and opens its stores in Plant City for a back-to-school drive where customers can donate school supplies to help the Coalition.
There will also be information available through the Health Care Navigators on how to acquire health insurance for the children, as well as further assistance like tutoring for children who may struggle through school.