Make your home page

Indy 500 weekend won’t ‘Finish the Race’ to keep kids healthy

Dr. Virginia Caine on ‘Finish the Race’

One month until the end of the "Finish the Race" campaign, the Marion County health director gives us an update on the progress

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While the Indy 500 will, weather permitting, end with a checkered flag this weekend, the community’s top health official says another important race still has several weeks left to run.

“So our campaign actually will extend to the end of June,” says Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Health Department director, about the effort to get more children vaccinated. It’s called “Finish the Race: Prevent. Promote. Protect.

“It’s going really great,” Caine told us during a Friday visit with WISH-TV’s Daybreak. “We have to know these vaccines prevent diseases. If you don’t get vaccinated, you have your child at risk of dying or having a very severe illness. So it’s so critical for us to get these vaccines.”

Caine addressed concerns some families may have about getting a number of shots at the same time – both in terms of health and practicality.

“It’s very safe to get multiple vaccines at the same time,” she explained. “You have several advantages. One, when you’re an infant, you want to try to get that protection as quickly as possible because it takes about two weeks for the baby to develop antibodies for an infection. And then you have the advantage of few office visits in order to get those vaccines.”

As a health leader, Caine indicates she watches world events closely because problems that end up here can begin thousands of miles away.

“We are a nation now that has a lot of international travel. People go out of the country to visit other countries, and so we’re vulnerable to any infections that may occur,” she said.

The numbers driving the Finish the Race campaign are daunting and are trending worse as children age. Caine says 20% of kindergarteners, 25% of sixth graders, and 33% of high school seniors are behind on vaccines.