With the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase across the commonwealth, due in part to the highly contagious Delta variant, there has never been a timelier conversation than back-to-school vaccinations.
While a COVID-19 vaccination is not required for school attendance, the CDC has recommended everyone 12 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccination to help fully protect against the virus and new variants. As students head back to class, the time is now to ensure they are safe, and are helping to keep their fellow classmates healthy as well.
Vaccines are important because immunity protects the body from disease. When antigens from the vaccination are administered, the human body will begin fighting the foreign antibody, without experiencing an actual illness. Once this process takes place, the body “remembers” the illness and will be better prepared to fight a possible future infection.
While it’s rare for children to experience a severe case of COVID, the Delta variant is even more contagious, which means others who are unvaccinated could become seriously ill if exposed, and could face hospitalization or even death. Of the COVID cases across the country, 14.25 percent of them are in children.
Widespread vaccination is a key tool in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now that those 12 years and older are approved for vaccine distribution, it’s important they’re included within this safety plan. If you have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, we strongly encourage you to do so. Children under age 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, so you could still pass the disease to younger children if you become infected.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is the most highly discussed immunization these days, parents should remember there are other state-mandated shots needed for back to school. The minimum vaccination requirement for public and private school attendance includes diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP), polio, measles and rubella, and varicella (chickenpox).
Students can receive these important shots, or boosters, from a primary care provider, at a local pharmacy or health department. Regardless of the selected option, confirm ahead of time that resources are available prior to your visit.
Aside from vaccinations, you should consider ways to protect your child from COVID-19 at school. Some districts are mandating all students – regardless of vaccination status – to wear masks indoors. The CDC’s new guidance recommends universal masking for everyone indoors, whether you have received the vaccine or not.
Talk with your child about other good habits – wash their hands regularly, avoid sharing drinks, lip balm and other items that could lead to the spread of viruses.
As back-to-school season begins, we all must continue to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19, ultimately leading to safer and healthier communities.