Back to school is a good time to update vaccines for children

Aug 22, 2022, 6:27 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2022, 4:29 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — As students head back to the classroom, state health officials reminded parents that it’s a good time to make sure their kids are up-to-date on vaccines.

If you have a kindergartner or seventh grader this reminder is for you. Those with older children who have fallen behind in their shots over the last couple of years should also be aware.

Let’s start with COVID-19. Like the flu shot, this is not a required vaccine for students to go back to school. Still, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services recommended parents take their kids to get the shot if they haven’t already.

For kids starting kindergarten, there are required shots. They include shots that help children develop immunity against diseases like Diptheria, tetanus, polio, measles, hepatitis A and B, and chicken pox.

There is a second round of those required vaccinations for students going into seventh grade.

One of the concerns for public health officials over the last couple of years has been parents and children who have fallen behind in their visits to physicians and getting their vaccines.

“Especially when you think of all these kids in schools and they mingle and they have very close contact and everything that’s a really good way for it to spread,” said Rich Lakin, immunization director for the DHHS. “That’s why these vaccinations to get caught up if they miss them, that’s why they are so important.”

Lakin said for COVID vaccines, there are nearly 800 providers in the state so nearly everyone is within 5 miles of a place where they can get their vaccine.

For required immunizations, parents can claim an exemption for their kids — for medical, religious, or personal reasons that are outlined in Utah law.

Lakin said his department should get more information in the fall about how many students have their immunizations.

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Back to school is a good time to update vaccines for children