Kokomo — There’s no reason why a person cannot afford health screenings offered throughout Kokomo this week. After all, many of them are free.
Furthermore, non-compliant Howard County middle and high school students who haven’t met state vaccination requirements have one more opportunity to get their shots – for a fee.
The 28th annual Howard County Health Fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Kokomo Event Center, 1504 N. Reed Road. And Saturday, Kokomo’s first Barbershop Health Outreach Program will be held at the Hair Affair Barbershop, 114 W. Morgan St.
With more than 50 booths, the county’s health fair — sponsored by Partners for a Healthier Community — offers health screenings at no charge, said Lisa Holaday, the event’s spokeswoman.
“The screenings are an opportunity to identify problems early, gain peace of mind, and get useful health information – and it’s all for free. We can’t sell them anything, so they can leave their wallets at home,” said Holaday, adding a cost associated with the event is $15 for a flu shot.
“We are expecting a large crowd. If someone has to park far away from the building, we will have a shuttle in the parking lot to pick them up. We want everyone to come and take advantage of all we have to offer.”
Not every Howard County student has received their school vaccinations. As a result, Thursday’s health fair includes back-to-school shots for grades 6-12 only, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Students needing shots should bring a copy of their school-vaccination record, a personal-vaccination record, a parent or legal guardian and $14. Medicaid or Hoosier Healthwise recipients and those who are uninsured will not pay.
Howard County Health Department officials said this is the last chance for students to be vaccinated by the health department without an appointment, as the office is booked until January with vaccination appointments.
Oct. 15 was the deadline for Taylor Community Schools students to have their required shots. Taylor High School Principal Eric Hartman said 21 students — grades 6 through 12 — have been excluded from school until they have the vaccinations or proof of an appointment to get them.
Kokomo-Center officials have no plans to exclude students. Cynthia Evans, director of social services, said school officials will work with parents to make sure all students are in compliance.
Western’s deadline is Friday, and Superintendent Peter O’Rourke said about 100 students still require shots.
Finally, if a person can’t attend Thursday’s health fair, there’s still another opportunity to receive free screenings.
Saturday, the Minority Health Alliance of Howard County will present Kokomo’s first Barbershop Health Outreach Program, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Hair Affair Barbershop, 114 W. Morgan St.
Willie Stroman, president of the Indiana Black Expo-Kokomo Chapter, said Dr. Ozoigbo Ikechuk will provide his services, offering free health-screenings that include blood pressure blood glucose tests.
Stroman added there will also be educational materials available on diabetes, heart disease, oral cancer and stress management.
“This is an idea that has been discussed as a potential program for Howard County for many months,” said Stroman. “Dr. O set the stage and now we are here to have our first with the potential of others to follow.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, African-American men suffer disproportionately from preventable diseases and have the lowest life expectancy than any other ethnic group.
For the African-American male, early detection and intervention are required to address this trend. In December 2007, the Diabetic Amputation Prevention Foundation started The Black Barbershop Outreach Program to address the at-risk African-American male population for cardiovascular diseases.
One of the program’s goals is to screen more than 500,000 men by the year 2012 for cardiovascular diseases and prostate cancer.
Black-owned barbershops represent a cultural institution attracting large numbers of black men, said a local barber, and the barbershop itself provides an environment of trust and an avenue to disseminate health education information.
“This may say its a black event, but this is for everyone. No one is excluded,” said Quatico “Tico” Brown, manager of the Hair Affair.
Brown has been cutting hair for more than two decades.
“The object of this is to help men. All men. Men come in here all the time discussing health issues. This event will provide education, awareness and support. It’s an event to feel great about. It’s good for the community and it’s promoting good health.”