BARSTOW Hundreds of families flock to Barstow's Kids Care Fair each year to get their children screened and immunized before school begins next month. But sponsors for this year's fair are planning for a larger crowd and suggest parents arrive as early as possible.

More than 500 people are expected to attend this year's fair, said John Rader, spokesman for Barstow Community Hospital, one of the event's sponsors. Between 400 and 800 adults and children attend the fair each year, but Rader said sponsors expect more this year partially based on the economy.

"People are losing their job and losing insurance," he said. "If (you) lose insurance you have to take your child to the pediatrician to have your shots done, and that can cost you a significant amount of money."

The fair opens at 9 a.m. Saturday and lasts until 1 p.m., but Rader said the immunization area will close at 12:30 p.m. Going through the immunization process can take at least an hour, he said, which is why parents are encouraged to bring their child's immunization record. If parents don't have their child's vaccination record, Rader said immunization screeners can re-create one based on information the parents give. The only other required form is written authorization from a parent or legal guardian if a child goes with someone else, Rader said.

All standard vaccines for children ages two months to 18 years will be available at the fair, Rader said. The only vaccines that won't be available are the chickenpox vaccine, which has to be kept at an exact temperature for it to be effective, the Novel Influenza A (H1N1) or swine flu vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine. Rader said the swine flu vaccine will be available at San Bernardino County's Department of Public Health clinics. The seasonal flu vaccine won't be available until October, he said.

Parents can also have their child's blood pressure, vision and oxygen level tested. Rader said free dental screenings will also be available, with dentists handing out toothbrushes and toothpaste. Other screenings include height and weight and nutrition and body mass index. At the end of the fair families visit a health review checkout station and have a clinical staff member review the screening forms, Rader said. If any screenings are out of the normal range, parents are asked to take their children to their doctor and are offered referrals to local area physicians if they don't have a doctor.

Other sponsors for the Kids Care Fair include the Barstow Rotary Club , the High Desert Immunization Coalition and 20 other organizations, Rader said. The event will be at the Cora Harper Fitness Center at 851 Barstow Road.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com

If you go:
What: Kids Care Fair
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cora Harper Fitness Center, at 851 Barstow Road
What to bring: Child's immunization record. Written authorization from parent or legal guardian if child goes with someone else.

If you don't go:
Other options for immunizations:
What: San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Immunization Clinics
Who: Children 18 years old and younger who are eligible for Medi-Cal or the Child Health and Disability Program, have no insurance or are an American Indian or Alaskan Native.
Cost: $10 fee per shot or oral dose based on ability to pay.
Where: Barstow Public Health, 303 East Mountain View Avenue.
What to bring: Immunization records, identification and child's Medi-Cal card if applicable.