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Many children behind on routine vaccines

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:32 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 8:50 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Put a mental pause on COVID and think about some other diseases we have struggled with like polio, diphtheria or hepatitis, all things you don’t want, especially for your kids.

There are about three weeks left in summer break, and doctors and school leaders want to remind parents that the clock is ticking to get your kids up to date on their routine vaccines.

Typically, doctors’ offices get slammed with last-minute appointments right before school starts.

”I do anticipate there will be a bigger rush this year than in previous years,” said Dr. Heather Felton, from Norton Children’s Medical Group in Germantown. “Usually, every kindergartener and every sixth grader needs a school physical and their new immunization certificate. But, I could see where a seventh grader and first grader didn’t turn one in last year because they didn’t go to in-person school.”

A lot of kids are behind, exposing them to diseases. If anything was learned from the pandemic, it’s how quickly a virus can spread. The coronavirus interrupted routine vaccination programs worldwide, putting millions of children at risk for other vaccine-preventable diseases.

According to a study from the University of Washington, at least 17 million children around the globe missed routine vaccinations for measles and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

”There are not many diseases that have been completely eradicated,” Felton said. “We still get pockets of outbreaks for things like chicken pox, measles. A few years ago, Louisville had an outbreak of hepatitis A.”

In the 2019-2020 school year, JCPS said 18,000 students were not current on their routine vaccines. The district said it realizes many are behind or may not have had access to vaccines. JCPS leaders said they will be offering some grace to families to get it all worked in so kids don’t miss out on learning.

“We want them to reach out and let us help work with them on a plan to get that child access to immunizations that they need,” Dr. Eva Stone from JCPS said.

JCPS is working with community health centers to help families get their children vaccinated. There are also eye exams and dental exams that are required for some students, and every student-athlete needs a sports physical every year.

JCPS has a page on its website outlining vaccine requirements.

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