Kids say shots hurt, even if free BALTIMORE COUNTY

May 04, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The red and white balloons, the free snacks, blaring television and smiling adults didn't distract fifth-graders Ricky Donaldson, Bryan Burkhead, Janice Bristow and Sarah Ashmore.

They knew why they were bused to the Lansdowne Middle School gym yesterday. And they didn't care that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations they were about to get were free, either.

"I'd rather be sick [than get a needle]," Ricky said. "You get to stay home."

His Lansdowne Elementary School friends nervously nodded their agreement. "We're scared," Bryan said, smiling. They were all brave during the ordeal, although Sarah covered her face with her hands.

The two-part, daylong health fair was the first effort of the fledgling Southwest Leadership Team, organized by the Rev. Steven P. Girard of St. Clement Catholic Church, to energize the southwestern Baltimore County communities of Lansdowne, Baltimore Highlands and Arbutus.

The group, which includes community and business leaders, county agencies and institutions such as St. Agnes Hospital and "Father Steve's" church, arranged for county school buses to bring children from area elementary schools during the day. Later in the afternoon, they brought adults and children without private transportation from apartment complexes in the low-income areas.

The morning session, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., saw 201 youngsters from six local public schools and two parochial schools receive the shots they'll need to start middle school next year. They were administered by school nurses under county Health Department supervision.

The afternoon session featured a wider range of vaccinations for 142 children and adults. There were blood pressure, pregnancy and cholesterol tests offered by St. Agnes Hospital, and applications for enrollment into the federal Women, Infant and Children (WIC) food supplement program for low-income mothers and young babies.

Health workers also distributed AIDS information and arranged appointments for free mammograms for women over 50. Dr. Joan Cofler, director of the county Health Department's Disease Control Bureau, said about 1,000 doses of state-supplied vaccines were on hand.

The program was an effort to draw out more community residents than those who normally come to the county's regular Lansdowne health clinic in the 3900 block of Annapolis Road, said Steven J. DeBoy Sr., the Wilkens police precinct's community relations officer and a member of the revitalization group.

The leadership group's early efforts suffered a setback in February when Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden closed the Lansdowne minilibrary in a cost-cutting move. But Father Girard called that a temporary setback and said he's negotiating with the county now over how to use the empty library space.

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