Immunization rates for Virginia kindergarteners still lower than pre-pandemic levels
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which lines up with the start of school across our hometowns.
Here in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health reports about 89 percent of kindergartners received all their shots last fall.
That vaccination rate is still down when compared to pre-pandemic statistics - meaning fewer students are getting vaccinated.
Immunize VA says the spread of misinformation is a leading reason for the change.
“People have been afraid of vaccines or had concerns and questions since the very first vaccine for smallpox was invented. But in turn, those questions, those doubts and their skepticisms have led us to have a really robust and rigorous safety monitoring program for vaccines,” Immunize VA Manager Rebecca Epstein said.
If you have questions about shots and other vaccines, Epstein recommends talking with your doctor and listening to their recommendations.
“The decision to vaccinate is just too big to make that decision alone. It has implications not only for the health of your family, but for other members of our community who cannot be vaccinated for some reason, or who are more vulnerable and susceptible to these diseases,” Epstein said.
Another barrier for people could be the cost of vaccines and doctors’ appointments. Virginia has two federally-funded programs that provide vaccines at no cost to children and adults.
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