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With School Returning, Governor Reminds Parents to Get Kids Their Shots


With August being National Immunization Awareness Month, Governor Kathy Hochul issued a reminder to parents and guardians to ensure their children are up to date on required vaccinations before heading back to school. The Governor and the New York State Department of Health also encouraged New Yorkers to prepare for the updated COVID-19 vaccine tailored to guard against new variants expected to arrive in pharmacies and doctor’s offices this fall, especially as the number of reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has increased in recent weeks.

“Immunizations are one of the most powerful tools of modern science, and we have seen their tremendous impact in our fight against the COVID-19 virus in recent years,” Governor Hochul said. “As we head into the new school year and into fall when respiratory viruses traditionally spread, it is important that everyone contact their health care providers to prepare and stay up to date on immunizations.”

Staying up to date on recommended vaccines – from required immunizations for schools to CDC-recommended vaccines for adults – can prevent the spread of disease and protect individuals from serious illness resulting from exposure to disease.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “It’s about personal protection, personal prevention, and personal wellness. We have the safest and most effective vaccines on the planet. During National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s a good time for parents, guardians, and pediatricians to take an active role in ensuring school-age children have all required vaccines before heading back to the classroom. And it is a great reminder to all of us the value of vaccines at preventing the spread of and serious outcomes from vaccine-preventable disease.”

Children attending daycare and pre-K through 12th grade in New York State must receive all required doses of vaccines according to the required schedule to attend or remain in school. Parents should speak with a healthcare provider about their child’s immunization records to catch up on any missing immunizations. Most private insurance plans are required to cover recommended vaccines at no cost. Parents or guardians of children who do not have health insurance or have a plan with out-of-pocket costs that are not affordable can still get vaccinated. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for children under age 19 who qualify. Decades of research show that vaccines prevent disease, save lives, and are safe and effective.

While the COVID-19 vaccine is not required for school attendance, the Governor and the Department of Health also recommend everyone speak to their healthcare provider about staying up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines as a preventive measure. Though numbers remain low compared to the height of the pandemic, the latest data shows an increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions. The Department reminds New Yorkers that those who have symptoms should test for COVID-19, and those who test positive should contact their healthcare provider about possible treatment, which have been shown effective at reducing the chances of serious outcomes, including hospitalization or death.

National Immunization Month is a good time to highlight the importance of other routine vaccinations among people of any age. While it’s important for infants and children to get their recommended vaccines on time, immunizations are not just for children. Adults of all ages need immunizations to stay healthy because immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time. There are also risks of different diseases for adults, and vaccination is among the best preventive care measures available. Adults can find out what vaccines they need by using the CDC adult Vaccine Assessment Tool.

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