By Darrell Todd Maurina
Getting stuck in the arm by a nurse wielding a sharp needle wasn’t K’Lynn Ferguson’s idea of fun, but her mother Sabrina said she was glad Wednesday’s health fair combined fun with important medical services.
Ferguson was among the dozens and dozens of Clovis children and teenagers who showed up at Gattis Junior High for fun, games, ice cream — and less enjoyable things like immunization shots and scoliosis screenings.
“(Getting shots) is so they can grow up healthy and strong,” Sabrina Ferguson said. “It’s a wonderful thing they do before school, it’s hard to get into the doctor’s office.”
Susan Ford, a nurse with the Clovis office of the New Mexico Health Department who gave K’Lynn Ferguson her inoculation shots, said that’s been a common story.
“A lot of people come in because it’s hard to get an appointment right before school,” Ford said. “That’s why we see so many people in today.”
While the free immunizations were a major draw, Curry County Wellness Council coordinator Terry Marney said the council sponsors its annual health fair to deliver a wide variety of health information into the hands of young people.
“Basically the idea is to get the kids before school starts,” Marney said. “The kids are not going to want to hear about this anytime except when they are fresh and ready to start school. Here is an event that is fun, parents can take their kids to it and celebrate afterwards.”
To attract younger children, Andrea Bell of the public relations committee at Plains Regional Medical Center said the hospital sends out publicity to all the area preschools and daycare facilities.
“I think that’s a majority of where our kids come from,” Bell said.
Other services provided included dental screenings, eye examinations, fingerprinting, backpack safety demonstrations, skits showing why students shouldn’t smoke or do drugs, and even motorcycle safety and drunk driving education for older teens.
Marney said teenagers now need anti-drug and anti-smoking education at younger and younger ages, and this year’s health fair tried to reach teenagers by offering a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
“That’s our enticement to get the teenagers there because teenagers also need health information,” Marney said.