CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – While the world talks about COVID-19 vaccines, children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade in Massachusetts still have basic immunizations they need before the school year starts.
The specific vaccines all depend on age and grade.
“We [need to] know when all these kids come together and kindergarten to share their snacks they’re not sharing serious infections,” Baystate Health’s Chief of Pediatrics, Dr. John O’Reilly told 22News.
But Dr. O’Reilly said the rate of those immunizations dropped by 60% during the pandemic. Many people cancelled doctor’s appointments due to fear of getting COVID at offices. So now there’s a whole age group missing their immunizations before school.
“We’re starting to see a lot of kids who haven’t come to our office for two years and we’re realizing ‘boy they’ve missed their vaccines, they’re very vulnerable,’ let’s get them protected as soon as we can,” Dr. O’Reilly explained.
Tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, meningitis, chicken pox, are just some of the immunizations that children routinely get before school to boost their immunity. “We give the babies a lot of vaccinations but by the time they’re getting ready to go into kindergarten their previous immunity begins to wane,” he said.
According to the CDC, on-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. “Over my career I’ve seen many of them cause severe harm and death to kids,” Dr. O’Reilly explained.
If you’re wondering what immunizations your child needs before school starts, call your pediatrician or check the CDC’s website.
Medical and religious exemptions from immunizations must be renewed annually and they must be renewed at the beginning of the school year.