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'Lag' in school vaccinations as families prepare for the start of a new school year

There are some new requirements for students, including high schoolers heading into the 12th grade.

NORFOLK, Va. — Pediatricians are noticing some students are lagging behind in getting their mandatory back-to-school vaccinations.

There are some vaccine requirement changes for students this year.

Medical Director of Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Medical Group, Dr. Doug Mitchell said CHKD offices are busy with back-to-school immunizations and some families are playing catch-up, trying to get the necessary shots.

“We’re seeing that lag," Dr. Mitchell said. "There was less attention paid to vaccines because kids were not in-person school last year. So indeed, we know we’re behind where we’d ideally be with kids heading back to school.”

"We really in Children’s Medical Group did a pretty good job through the winter of doing some of that catch up after the absolute shut down last year," he said. “We’re getting there but there’s a lot of work to be done and we’re staying very busy as a result.”

Dr. Mitchell continued: “Families are really coming in now, our offices are extremely busy trying to get the back-to-school physicals, the sports physicals, and those catch-up immunizations.”

The Virginia Department of Health has a list of immunization requirements on its website.

High school students heading into 12th grade need a second dose of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine. 

Students heading into the 7th grade need their first dose of the HPV vaccine. 

Dr. Mitchell stressed, although there are some new immunization requirements this school year, pediatricians have always recommended these shots.

“The vaccines that we recommend for school, we’ve been recommending for decades,” he said. “There’s no new vaccines. What changed is the school entry requirements." 

Dr. Mitchell said the state health department is aligning its school entry requirements with recommendations that were already in place by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

"Yes we’ve got some catch-up to do with the additional attention paid by school nurses because of the new legislation but it’s the same vaccines we’ve been recommending all along and feel are important for the health and safety of our children," he said.

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