KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s almost time for kids to head back to school. Parents know that besides gathering supplies, kids must also be updated on their immunizations. 

If you live in Kalamazoo, there is a free community event where kids can get their immunizations and supplies in one place. 

The 17th annual Back to School Bash is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at Family Health Center – Paterson. It is free to all Kalamazoo families. 

The event includes vaccination clinics, a carnival, food, a petting zoo and more than 100 vendors. Families will also leave the event with a backpack full of school supplies and hygiene kits. 

“In Kalamazoo County but Michigan as a whole, our childhood immunization rates are significantly down. We are concerned about that. This is how we were able to eradicate many of these diseases we don’t even think about, polio, rubella, etc. So, in order to maintain this, we have to keep our children’s immunization rates up,” Denise Crawford, the president and CEO of the Family Health Center in Kalamazoo, said.

Organizers said the event started when more than 500 kids were displaced from school because they did not have all the required vaccines. This past school year, organizers said only 30 children were affected, and they immediately received vaccinations and went back to school the next day. 

Crawford said this displacement typically affects students who do not or cannot find access to vaccinations. She wants to change that through this event. 

“Oftentimes challenged and marginalized students who don’t have access to perhaps the same level of resources face many disparities. Those are the ones that are being put out of school and have to remain out for periods of time,” Crawford said. “Those are the exact students that we want in school and we really believe need the additional time, resources and support. Immunizations keep kids in school and it keeps everyone healthy.”

Organizers ask anyone interested in attending to register by calling 269.488.0805.