Back-to-school shots: Local physician says routine vaccination rates still down among children

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s time to get your kids up-to-date on their back-to-school shots.

COVID-19 vaccines were the focus these past two years, but healthcare professionals are trying to remind families about the importance of routine vaccinations that keep kids protected from other diseases.

During the pandemic, routine vaccination rates dropped among children.

Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, a family physician with Multicare Rockwood Clinic, says as some families were staying home, children fell behind on appointments.

If this sounds like you and your family, doctors want you to get caught up on those shots.

LaSalle says this is a problem across the country and around the world.

We’re still not back to the immunization rates of 2019 and prior when it comes to children getting their shots for mumps, measles, rubella and other contagious illnesses.

LaSalle says measles is one illness that can spread very easily among children.

“Measles is the most contagious virus that we have and it takes a really high rate of community immunization to keep it out of the community, to keep it from spreading,” she said.

Here’s a snapshot of what illnesses your student should be vaccinated against according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Chickenpox (Varicella) Mumps
Diphtheria Pneumococcal disease*
German measles (Rubella) Polio (Poliomyelitis)
Haemophilus influenzae type b disease (Hib)* Tetanus
Hepatitis B Whooping cough (Pertussis)
Measles (Rubeola)

*required only until 5 years of age

Schools and child care facilities in Washington require this to be reflected on their immunization record.

One month ahead of the new school year is the best time to make an appointment for these back-to-school shots.

Dr. Lasalle says most families are making appointments in the days and weeks prior to the first day of school, so the earlier the better.

Some school districts, like Spokane Public Schools, are requiring these shots before students enter the classroom.

Dr. LaSalle says if low vaccination rates among children continue, it can lead to these diseases entering the classroom right along with them.

“Not only have our immunization rates dropped here, but around the world they’ve dropped as well,” said LaSalle. “And so we can easily see re-introduction of something from another country like polio or measles if we don’t maintain high immunization rates.”

Don’t know if your student is up-to-date on their immunization? Check with your local clinician or your student’s school nurse.

You can also check your student’s school district website to know what shots and other medical records will be required prior to the first day of school.

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