MESA, Ariz. - This has been a long time coming for many Mesa families.
Mesa Fire and Medical's free immunization clinic the morning of Aug. 1 was the first of the summer after multiple cancellations because of COVID-19.
"We're just trying to play catch up so the kids are ready to go back to school, whether that be online or in the classroom, and that they're vaccinated and protected," said Mesa fire captain Michelle Denton.
Denton said Mesa Fire's clinic wasn't the only one that had to cancel, and it's led to many Arizona kids needing immunizations.
"Doctor's offices normally vaccinate, the wellness clinics normally vaccinate, and the public entities like Fire and Medical normally vaccinate - and all of those have been shut down except for very few," said Denton.
"They're starting to open back up and make appointments so by nature of all those things being closed, there's going to be lots of kids not vaccinated," she continued.
Sara Stapley's five children are part of that group.
"We've got insurance but it doesn't really cover immunizations which are really expensive," Stapley explained.
Stapley's family has had to hold off on getting shots, as they've had to fight off some untimely illnesses.
"We just canceled [our] visit last week because we were getting cold symptoms, and then this came out and I thought, perfect, we're healthy, let's go," Stapley said.
Mesa Fire will have another clinic on Aug. 12, before school starts. Even if school is not in-person, the immunizations will still need to happen.
"They're requiring vaccinations, whether you're online or in the classroom, the requirements are still there," said Capt. Denton. "The school nurses are back at work and running those reports now, so parents will start getting letters if they haven't already - so this is to try to preemptively fix that."
More on Mesa Fire and Medical's immunization clinic: https://www.mesaaz.gov/residents/fire-medical/immunizations/-toggle-all