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Duval Health Officials Look To Increase Immunization Rates Among Babies

Lindsey Kilbride
On Thursday Morning, 15-year-old Djellza Zeneli was getting three vaccines for tetanus, meningitis and chickenpox at the new University Boulevard immunization center.

Duval Health Officials say not enough kids in the county are getting vaccinated — but a new immunization center on the Southside could help change that.

On Thursday Morning, 15-year-old Djellza Zeneli was getting three vaccines: one for tetanus, meningitis and chickenpox.

“I don’t want to take my shot,” she said as the medical professional prepped her arm.

She has to get these before attending a Duval high school.

“I haven’t had one in like four years,” Zeneli  said.

While children are required to be immunized prior to enrolling in school, she’s been living in Germany and wasn’t required to get all of them.  

Duval Medical Director Pauline Rolle said other people don’t get them because of access, or they don’t think it’s important.

“You have a movement where folks feel that vaccines are harmful or my child does not need to get vaccinated,” she said. “So you do have a subset of the population that don’t believe in vaccines.”

Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
Duval County health officials cut a ribbon to officially open the doors to the new Southside Immunization Center.

In Duval County, just 88 percent of children under the age of 2 are getting vaccinated, but the goal is at least 95 percent.

”One of the diseases that we don’t see anymore is polio,” Rolle said. “‘Why?’ Because we did such a good job of eradicating it through vaccination.

"I would hate to see something like that pop up again just because we chose not to vaccinate.”

She said free kids’ vaccines are now available at the Southside immunization clinic every weekday. There’s also an immunization center Springfield off of North Pearl Street. 

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.