As start of school nears, immunizations are required

VIRGINIA BEACH — Undoubtedly, every parent reading this has already made sure that their child’s immunizations are up-to-date, especially if they’re starting school this fall.

But for the two or three who haven’t, it’s time.

The Commonwealth of Virginia – like every state in the nation – has minimum immunization requirements for a child who is starting school or attending a child care center.

Mary Shaw, coordinator of Health Services for the Virginia Beach City Public School’s division, said information on which immunizations are required is easy to find.

“Immunization information is posted on vbschools.com as well as in the kindergarten registration booklet, which is provided to every family of a kindergartner.”

If parents still have questions or are unsure, the school can provide a clinic flier and a minimum immunization requirement handout that comes from the Virginia Department of Health.

Required immunizations are as follows (directly from the VBCPS website):

  • DPT – A minimum of four doses, with at least one dose on or after the child’s fourth birthday;
  • Polio– A minimum of four doses, with at least one dose on or after the child’s fourth birthday;
  • Measles (Rubeola)– Two doses of the Measles (Rubeola) vaccine for all students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12. The first dose must have been at age 12 months or older; the second dose no sooner than one month after the first dose;
  • Rubella– A minimum of one dose of each administered at 12 months or older. This is usually given in combination with Measles (Rubeola) as the MMR vaccine;
  • Mumps– Two doses of the Mumps vaccine before entering kindergarten. This is usually administered in combination with the Measles (Rubeola) as the MMR vaccine;
  • Hepatitis B– A series of three vaccines for all students born on or after Jan. 1, 1994. The third dose must not have been given before 24 weeks of age;
  • Varicella(Chicken Pox) – A minimum of two doses before entering kindergarten (effective March 3, 2010) and for new enrolling first through seventh grade students unless a history of chickenpox disease or lab tests are provided by a licensed qualified physician or licensed nurse practitioner. The first chickenpox dose must have been administered after 12 months of age;
  • Tdap(Booster) – for all rising 6th graders and new enrolling seventh -12th graders (tetanusdiphtheria and pertussis).

The Virginia Department of Health also lists online the required immunizations.

Shaw said if a child shows up for school without the required immunizations, the child will have to wait to begin classes, but the school will provide information to the parent or guardian and work with them to get the child immunized.

There are some exceptions in Virginia law that allow students to start school without complete immunization documentation, she said. The exceptions being military dependents new to Virginia, who have 30 days to provide documentation; or if a child is homeless, in which case a school social worker would work directly with the family to get the child immunized.

What about parents who don’t want their child immunized?

“A philosophical opt-out by a parent not to have their child immunized for school is not acceptable for school entry,” Shaw said. “However, a medical exemption from a physician, or a religious exemption is acceptable.”

The form for the religious exemption is available from the school upon request.

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