Metroplex will be hosting their thirtieth annual KidFest Health and Safety Fair on Sunday, Aug. 19, from 12:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 3601 South W.S. Young Drive. Metroplex Hospital will be providing free immunizations for children ages 0 through 18, and there will also be many other vendors on hand to provide activities and entertainment, as well as information for parents and guardians.

“The purpose of the event is to get immunized so (the kids) can go back to school…especially for the kids that are underinsured or have no health insurance,” said Erin Spencer, Metroplex spokeswoman. “The kids that do attend do have to qualify — that’s part of the program.”

The “program” is Texas Vaccines for Children, a program which provides low- to no-cost vaccines to children who meet certain criteria, such as those mentioned by Spencer, or being enrolled in Medicaid or the CHIP program.

This is not just a shot clinic — there will be many vendors and activities at the event. This year there will be shaved ice provided by Kona Ice, bounce houses provided by Jump City, and the Killeen Fire Department will have vehicles for the kids to look at and explore.

“They are always a big draw for the kids,” Spencer said.

There will also be plenty of health-related vendors, such as pediatrician Dr. Ricky Mitchell, pediatric dentists Cen-Tex Dental, and an epilepsy foundation will be represented.

“The event is entirely free. ... Families don’t have to pay for anything to participate, they just have to show up,” Spencer said.

Spencer’s advice to those who plan to attend is to get there early. People are vaccinated on a first come-first serve basis, as they have run out of some vaccines in the past.

Community Health Coordinator Latoya Ellis explained that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, only allows a set number of vaccines to be ordered in a given month, so if only 100 of a particular vaccine is ordered, the hospital has to wait until the following month to resupply.

Ellis said, “The meningitis is the biggest, because all of the 18-year-olds who have already graduated who need that to go to college.”

She also said the Hepatitis-A is the next quickest to run out, and though many states do not require it, Texas does.

For more information about the Texas vaccination schedule, visit www.dshs.texas.gov/immunize/schedule/#easy

For more information about KidFest, visit www.mplex.org and click the education and events tab.

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