Parents: Let’s Talk Immunizations During COVID-19

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Provided by Novant Health UVA Health System

If you have children going back to school, make sure they are up-to-date on immunizations their school requires. Otherwise, they can’t enroll.

Parents shouldn’t have COVID-19 safety concerns during a visit to their pediatrician. Novant Health UVA Health System providers are using creative ways to continue in-person visits. In some cases, a vaccine can be administered in the parking lot while the child is in their car seat. As an added precaution, clinics have designated certain entrances and office hours for well and sick visits. Cleaning and disinfecting are top priorities at every Novant Health UVA Health System location, too.

Vaccines are given to children to help prevent diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, chickenpox, polio and measles. Vaccines are also given for pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhea, two of the biggest killers in children younger than 5.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe vaccines as containing “the same germs that cause the disease, but the germs have been either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t make you sick.”

Vaccines help the immune system build up resistance to dangerous diseases.

Required immunizations for Virginia schools

Students in Virginia must have the following immunizations, according to the Virginia Department of Health:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis – 4 doses
  • Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib) – 2-3 doses, depending on the manufacturer
  • Hepatitis B – 3 doses
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine – 3 doses
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) – 2 measles, 2 mumps and 1 rubella
  • Pneumococcal (PCV) – 1-4 doses, depending on age at first dose
  • Polio – 4 doses
  • Varicella (chickenpox) – 2 doses

Dr. James Min of Novant Health UVA Health System Bull Run Family Medicine in Haymarket recommended the following immunizations for students (in addition to the required ones):

  • Middle school – Human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) and meningitis vaccine
  • High school – meningitis vaccine booster for students ages 16-18
  • College – meningitis vaccine is required, if not already received

‘Herd immunity’ helps all

 Vaccines are effective 90 to 100 percent of the time. However, some children are not able to get vaccines for certain medical reasons, or because they are too young to be vaccinated. This leaves children without protection and having to rely on “herd immunity.”

The CDC describes herd immunity as when “a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (newborns and those with chronic illnesses) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread.”

According to Min, vaccines are one of the most proven things we have in medicine in terms of safety and efficacy.

“I have no concerns with vaccines,” Min said. “Unfortunately, people, especially in the United States, are afraid of vaccines because of what they’ve read on the internet.”

For more information about vaccines for children, check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guide for parents and caregivers.

For more information about the extra steps Novant Health UVA Health System is taking extra steps to ensure your safety, visit



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