Home Back to school: ImmunizeVA urges Virginians to complete immunizations

Back to school: ImmunizeVA urges Virginians to complete immunizations

Crystal Graham
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ImmunizeVA, a statewide coalition of immunization stakeholders representing medical, public health, and nonprofit professionals, urges Virginians to get caught up on recommended vaccines to reduce the transmission of communicable diseases as Virginians return to in-person events including returning back to school.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual opportunity to remind Virginians about the importance of staying on track with a recommended vaccine schedule.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many routine vaccinations, including meningitis, HPV, and Hepatitis A, were delayed because of missed annual doctor’s visits.

“Vaccines are critical to stopping the spread of illnesses and helping to keep communities safe and healthy,” said Rebecca Epstein, senior program manager of ImmunizeVA. “With Virginia children returning to school and young adults leaving for college, August marks an important reminder to speak to your medical professionals to maintain the recommended vaccine schedule.”

The 2021 Virginia Annual Immunization Survey reported a visible drop in kindergarten entry vaccination rates from 84.8 percent to 80.4 percent. Returning to in-person locations could allow for the spread of many vaccine-preventable illnesses if Virginians are not protected.

ImmunizeVA urges Virginia families and residents to speak with a medical professional to get back on track with a recommended vaccine schedule.

Infants, small children, college students, seniors, and other Virginia communities should complete missed vaccinations before returning to school and other in-person settings.

“Neglecting vaccines could lead to an outbreak of dangerous illnesses in Virginia. Timing and action are important for the best possible protection from vaccine preventable diseases” said Dr. Carolyn Moneymaker, chair of ImmunizeVA, Pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, and Virginia Chapter immunization representative to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A wide range of vaccines is recommended for children and teens that require multiple doses at specific ages and times. Virginia’s school immunization requirements align with the recommended schedule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians.

There are important vaccines for adults as well, including some recently updated recommendations for certain vaccines like pneumococcal. Adults should receive an annual flu shot. Booster shots are recommended every 10 years to protect people from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

To learn more about the value of immunizations and ImmunizeVA, visit www.immunizevirginia.org.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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