Valley school districts say students must be immunized to attend online classes

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This school year may look different, but state-mandated immunization requirements haven't changed.

"Kids are falling behind in immunizations because of all of the disruptions related to the pandemic," said Fresno County public health officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

Vohra was echoing the sentiments of the state.

"If we don't get everyone up to date, it's going to lead to other infectious disease epidemics that we cannot afford to have right now," he said.

By law, schools are required to check immunization records for all new student admissions at TK/Kindergarten through 12th grade and all students advancing to 7th grade.

Valley Children's pediatrician Dr. Hailey Nelson said because of distance learning, they've come across parents that are confused of what's expected.

"The last thing that we want right now in the middle of a pandemic is for there to be a measles outbreak or for there to be other issues that we could've taken care of and prevent," said Nelson.

As would be the case for in-person learning Fresno Unified Director of health services Jane Banks said students will be pulled from class if their immunization records aren't in.

"The assumption is that students are home so do they really need it?" said Banks.

Their outreach with this message started at the onset of the pandemic.

School nurses spent the summer contacting parents and even made a list of clinics available for students on their website.

"It's a whole new world that was trying to navigate but the health and safety of our students is still a priority," said Banks.

State law isn't the only motivating factor for districts urging parents to keep their kids on track.

"When the time comes for students to be back on campus you want them to be ready with immunizations," said Kelly Avants with the Clovis Unified School District.

Health experts also suggest preparing your little ones for what that trip to the doctor's office may look like.

Letting them know about masks, goggles and other social distancing practices, in place, could decrease any anxiety.
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