Back-to-School Vaccines: a 2021 Update

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By News Team on August 2, 2021

As the next school year approaches, Virginia families are scheduling catch-up immunizations for their children—and they have questions.

Christopher Pierce, M.D., section chief of General Pediatrics at Carilion Clinic, offers clarity and guidance on new school and daycare immunization requirements from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the coronavirus vaccines for kids 12 and older, and a looming 2021-22 flu season.

“For the most part, the new guidelines parallel what has been recommended for some time,” he said. “A child who has been receiving regular health care has probably received all of the vaccinations he or she needs.”

The new requirements from VDH affect children attending:

  • Public or private K-12 schools
  • Child care centers and nursery schools
  • Family day care homes
  • Developmental centers

The changes include the following immunizations and booster shots:

  • Rotovirus vaccine – two to three doses for children up to 8 months
  • Hepatitis A vaccine – two doses beginning at 12 months
  • DTaP vaccine – four doses beginning at age 4
  • HPV vaccine – two doses for all children beginning before seventh grade
  • Meningitis – two doses for all children beginning before seventh grade

VDH offers details about each vaccine in a downloadable Supplemental Guidance sheet (pdf).

Kids and Coronavirus Vaccines
Dr. Pierce also shed light on the coronavirus vaccines and children ages 12 and older.

“The overwhelming data is showing great efficacy,” he said. “Early studies looking at 12- to 16-year-olds showed 100 percent efficacy in preventing severe disease and hospitalization.”

“That degree of significance is hard to overlook,” he said, especially when side effects are so minimal.

The good news is that most parents Carilion Children’s has seen recently are vaccinated against COVID-19, and they’re enthusiastic about their children receiving the vaccine as well.

“The more vaccine we can get out in general, the less the coronavirus is going to be out there,” said Dr. Pierce. “That’s particularly more important with the new delta variant.”

Flu Season Starts Early
Flu season starts Sept. 1, about the same time as kids return to school. Dr. Pierce recommends that both adults and children receive the flu vaccine.

“As coronavirus prevention requirements have loosened, the incidence of respiratory infections overall has increased,” he said. “That’s an indicator of how prevalent the flu will be this season.”

Whether your family is on schedule and your children only need the newly required vaccines, or whether life, health or the coronavirus pandemic have kept you from staying on the vaccine track, now is the best time to get caught up. Call your child’s pediatrician today to schedule their vaccines and keep them safe and healthy this school year.

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