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It might be time to get your shots.

York City's Bureau of Health is holding a free walk-in clinic Thursday for children in need of immunizations as they head back to school.

The clinic will be held on Aug. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Albert S. Weyer Health Center, 435 W. Philadelphia St.

Immunizations will be available for city residents without private health insurance, with Medicaid or eligible for the Vaccines for Children program.

Debra Stoops, a nurse with the bureau of health, said York City isn't where it needs to be when it comes to getting immunizations, but progress is being made.

In Pennsylvania, less than 70 percent of children aged 19 to 35 months were fully immunized in 2012, according to data from the bureau of health.

Despite a dearth of scientific evidence, vaccinations have been under attack from activists who say immunizations cause autism.

An anti-vaccination movement grew from the publication of a fraudulent research paper in 1998 in the medical journal The Lancet.

The article's author, Andrew Wakefield, lost his medical license for manipulation of evidence, multiple conflicts of interest and ethical misconduct.

The article inaccurately linked autism to the MMR (the combined measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

Audra Johns, a member of the York County chapter of the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition, said it can be hard to navigate the controversy that has created around immunizations not being safe for children.

"Vaccinations are the first lines of protection," she said. "They are the best way to keep a community healthy."

Johns said the best way to reach those needing to be immunized are not only through clinics, but by physically going into poor communities and making it accessible.

"I did this last year and each time I used up the donated supply," she said. "It's all about creating access to those who need it."

Johns said her organization gave out 1,200 flu vaccinations last year.

With the Affordable Care Act making vaccines more affordable, this year, the coalition will be giving out less, she said.

Stoops said parents who can't come in on the open clinic day are encouraged to call and make an appointment.

"It's better to get it done sooner rather then later," she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccination of children born between 1994 and 2013 will prevent 322 million illnesses, help avoid 732,000 deaths and save nearly $1.4 trillion in total societal costs in the United States.

Correction: The story incorrectly spelled Audra Johns name incorrectly. We regret the error.

— Reach Sara Blumberg at sblumberg@yorkdispatch.com.

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