WASHINGTON — Back to class is around the corner, so in addition to preparing school supplies, doctors are urging families to make sure their children are up to date with their vaccinations.
The coronavirus pandemic caused many families to delay getting their children’s immunizations. CDC data shows that, nationwide, vaccine coverage has been declining since the pandemic hit (93% for the 2021-2022 school year compared to 95% pre-pandemic.)
When it comes to which vaccines are required, Pediatric Hospital Medicine Attending at Children's National Hospital, Dr. Gabrina Dixon, said there shouldn't be any surprises on the immunizations list this year. She said it all comes down to preventive care.
“It’s really doing those well child checks and to make sure everything is okay and talking to your pediatrician," she said. "Making sure you have a primary medical home I think that's really key, because at our primary medical home we're providers that know you, have seen you grow, know your medical history... [It's] important, because they can give you the guidance that you need to stay healthy."
Maryland's Governor Wes Moore is joining in on that call by proclaiming August Immunization Awareness Month.
That comes with a social media campaign encouraging families to keep their children up to date on vaccinations. They'll feature graphics, like the one above, and video interviews of pediatricians and pharmacists.
“Parents no longer worry about measles or polio, or a dozen other diseases which used to be prevalent in our society, because of vaccines,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. “We have also made it through the pandemic, in part because of the protection we received and continue to receive from COVID vaccines.”
This reminder starts now as some Virginia schools start back up next week.
“We're trying to be advocating beforehand, so I think that's why [we recommend] those well child checks and routine physical exams, routine vaccination, because you can get it done with those routine visits. So you don't see that rush [right before school,]" Dr. Dixon said.
D.C. Health has a list of places where you can take your child to get vaccinated if you do not have a medical home.
Click on the below links to see some of the major public school systems' vaccination requirements:
Dr. Dixon also recommends checking out the CDC's list. She said that's what pediatricians follow.