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Virginia updates its vaccine requirements for the 2021-22 school year

New legislation aligns Virginia's back-to-school vaccines with CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

NORFOLK, Va. — We are just weeks away from the first day of class and while we've heard a lot about the COVID-19 vaccine, there are new requirements when it comes to what shots are needed as students head back to school:

  • Two doses of properly spaced human papillomavirus vaccine for all children. The first dose is required before the child enters the seventh grade.
  • Two or three properly spaced doses of rotavirus vaccine, depending on the manufacturer, for children up to eight months of age.
  • Two properly spaced doses of hepatitis A vaccine. The first dose must be administered at age 12 months or older. The new hepatitis A vaccine requirement is an addition to the existing kindergarten immunization requirements.
  • Two properly spaced doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine. The first is required prior to entry to the seventh grade. The second dose is required prior to entry to the twelfth grade.

“Our state legislature enacted legislation that took effect July 1st this year, ” said Dr. Douglas Mitchell, a pediatrician and is also the medical director of CHKD’s medical group. 

He said the new legislation aligns the back-to-school vaccines with CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

“Kids entering kindergarten must have the two doses of Hepatitis A,” he explained. That is a new change at the state level, not a new recommendation.

Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine are required for students heading into kindergarten. Upcoming seventh graders also need to roll up their sleeves for extra shots.

“The meningitis vaccine and HPV or Human papillomavirus vaccine.”

Before students head into their senior year, they will need a second dose of the meningitis vaccine.

“If they do not receive them by the time they enter school, then school nurses will be looking at those records and sending them back to their pediatrician, ” Mitchell explained.

What about the COVID-19 shot? Dr. Mitchell said the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children 12 and older and recommends students get it.

“We are not at a point where school divisions or the state are going to require it for this year,” explained Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell said it's crucial to make an appointment to get your children’s back-to-school vaccines as soon as possible.

“Appointments may be hard to find now, ” he said. “We are going to do the best we can as pediatricians, but hopefully, people can acknowledge that now we are going to be very full.”

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