Keep up with immunizations in preparation of COVID-19 vaccines for children

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Virginia (WHSV) – In the spring of 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring students within the Commonwealth of Virginia to have certain immunizations before entering seventh grade.

“Children who didn’t have the vaccines before the start of sixth grade wouldn’t be able to start sixth grade. Sixth grade are the first days that you learn how to use your locker combination. Where to find your books and how to get to classes, ”explained Dr. Percita Ellis of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “They wanted to make sure kids were on the same starting point by sixth grade and by seventh grade, they should already know that.”

Last year, some students were unaware of vaccinations or the pandemic delayed the process. Pediatricians recommend that parents and families keep children up to date on all previously required vaccinations so that when the COVID-19 vaccines become available to younger children, they can get vaccinated against the virus for an isolated period of time.

“You shouldn’t actually get another vaccine two weeks before or two weeks after completing your COVID series,” explained Dr. Ellis explains.

The immunizations listed in H1090 are required for students to begin seventh grade. Some health experts say they expect certain COVID vaccines to become available to younger adolescents in the coming weeks.

“The TDAP, meningitis and hepatitis A are absolutely required, so they probably want to get them first, and then they can get the COVID vaccine in two to four weeks,” added Dr. Ellis adds.

Click here for a list of required vaccines for Virginia students. While certain vaccines are required, there are exceptions for religious or medical reasons.

“Most of the time, it comes down to we really want them to get the vaccines because we want everyone to stay healthy. For example, the last thing we want is another whooping cough outbreak or something like that. We really want the kids to stay healthy so they can stay together and do well in school, ”added Dr. Ellis adds.

Superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools Oskar Scheikl says whether schools will need the COVID-19 vaccine for college students remains with the Virginia Department of Education.

“As a school division, we would certainly get that information from the DOE, but VDH would be the body responsible for public health and that’s where that decision will come from,” said Scheikl.

District leaders are working with the community to assist in vaccination efforts for people 16 and older. Scheikl says no vaccine is given to a student without parental consent.

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