Local health departments urge parents to vaccinate children before school starts

Health departments around the metro area are urging parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on their childhood vaccines before school starts. New immunization requirements by the state of Kansas mean some students in the metro could be excluded from school if their vaccines are not up-to-date.

“As you put together your back-to-school list, put immunizations near the top of that list. Getting your children immunized is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your children’s health this coming school year,” says Terry Brecheisen, director of the Unified Government Public Health Department. “Check with your doctor or immunization provider to find out what vaccines your child needs before school begins so your child does not miss school because they don’t have the required vaccinations.”

This is especially true for Kansas students. Starting Aug. 2, the new Kansas requirements include: two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine for children entering kindergarten or first grade; students entering seventh grade will need one dose of the meningococcal ACWY (meningitis) vaccine; students starting 11th grade will need one dose of the meningococcal ACWY (meningitis) vaccine if not vaccinated prior to their 16th birthday (they will need two doses if their first dose was before their 16th birthday). In addition to these new requirements, Kansas students in grades 7-12 are required to have one dose of Tdap before attending school.

In Missouri, the requirements are: one dose of Tdap for those in grades 8-12; one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine for grades 8-10 and two doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine by 12th grade.

Brecheisen says many local health departments (some located on or near RideKC routes) offer walk-in hours for immunizations while others offer appointments so parents and caregivers can bring in their children when it’s convenient for them. He adds that if a parent does not have health insurance, or if their insurance does not cover vaccines, the Vaccines for Children (VCF) program offers vaccines at no cost to eligible children through health care providers enrolled in the program.

Parents can find out more about the recommended immunization schedule by contacting their health care provider or local health department.

MARC brings local public health agencies  together through MOHAKCA, the Metropolitan Official Health Agencies of the Kansas City Area, and through the Public Health Subcommittee of the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee.