Parents are being encouraged to take their children early for school vaccinations to avoid delays when the Crawford County Health Unit switches to electronic records in late July.

Crawford County Health Unit will be closed from Tuesday, July 23, to Friday, July 26, while they convert their records, Administrator Michelle Hammer said.

The Arkansas Department of Health will be converting to electronic health records throughout the summer to meet federal requirements, she said.

"Although this will be an accomplishment, we as a local health unit will have to endure some growing pains to get there," Hammer said in a e-mail sent to area school nurses.

Though the unit will open again July 29, it will be operating between 30 and 50 percent of its usual capacity until the staff become efficient with using the new system, Hammer said.

Most area schools begin classes in mid-August, which is why Hammer said it is important for parents to bring their children earlier for school vaccinations if possible.

Unit personnel will not be able to accommodate large numbers of people during the training period, which may last throughout the month of August, Hammer said.

Parents can call and make appointments any time prior to July 19, she said.

"We encourage parents to plan ahead this year or they may end up having to delay enrolling their students," Hammer said.

To assist parents, the Unit is planning to offer to stay open later some Thursday evenings in May from 3-5:30 p.m. Those dates are May 2, 9, 16 and and 23.

The unit will not be open late on May 30 because of some additional computer updates it will be undergoing that day, Hammer said.

Parent or guardians need to have their child at the unit by no later than 5:30 on these dates. Unit personnel will be finishing their regular clinic appointments and will start the late clinic as soon as possible, Hammer said.

For questions regarding immunizations or clinic availability, call CCHU at (479) 474-6391.