Doctors say many families are playing ‘catch-up’ with required vaccines ahead of new school year

Most children receive all the necessary vaccines by kindergarten, although the pandemic has affected that trend.
Parents looking to the 2022-2023 school year know there’s a list of shots required to keep students in class and healthy.
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 9:05 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Doctors say the time is now to to make sure your child has all the vaccinations needed for the upcoming school year.

Most children receive the necessary vaccinations by kindergarten, but the recent pandemic has caused some check-ups to fall behind.

Dr. Jonathan Knoche with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) said many families are playing catch-up.

“The time we’ve been facing COVID, we’ve seen some of these routine immunizations take a dip,” Dr. Knoche said. “People are perhaps not going out as much and not necessarily going to their provider for routine care.”

That includes vital and required vaccinations students have to undergo in order to safely protect themselves and others while in class.

Most vaccinations are administered to children before kindergarten.

In North Carolina, these include vaccinations for the whooping cough, polio, measles and others. Incumbent seventh-graders also need tetanus and chickenpox vaccines. Additionally, beginning with the 2020-21 school year, an additional vaccine for meningitis was put in place.

The full list of requirements can be found on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website here.

South Carolina, on the other hand, has recently made changes to their requirements, particularly when it comes to the timing of certain vaccines, along with a student’s respective grade level.

Health officials have now moved the grade levels up for three vaccines. For example, instead of requiring the the chickenpox vaccine in seventh-graders, leaders have reset the requirement for eighth-graders, instead.

Additionally, 10th-graders instead of those in ninth grade are required to have the polio vaccine. And second grade instead of first grade is the cap for hepatitis.

“If they moved from out of state, and last year we had a requirement that a first grader get hepatitis A shot, and somebody comes in from another state and they’re going to the second grade, we want to make sure that we capture those second graders to make sure they’re on the same level as everybody else,” Dr. Knoche said.

The full list of requirements for South Carolina students from the SCDHEC can be found here.

Doctors continue to say that it’s important to be thinking of these shots now. Natalie Gonzalez, a physician’s assistance at StarMed’s Central Avenue location, said you want to avoid the rush of parents racing to the doctor’s offices in August.

Additionally, it makes a difference in how protected your child is at the beginning of the school year.

“You don’t see immunity build until two weeks after the series is completed,” Gonzalez said. “So if we start that within the school year, there’s still that risk that they can get infected that first couple weeks or first couple of months or those first couple weeks if they haven’t received the full series.”

Gonzalez said it’s also important to give your child time to go through the immunity process, and any potential side effects.

“They could experience some fatigue, arm and leg pain, low grade fever,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a positive response that the immune system is working, grabbing hold of that vaccine and doing its job.”

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