Why DC parents are rushing to get their kids vaccinated

Children's National saw 130 children for vaccines both Monday and Tuesday, with some locations reaching capacity by 6 p.m.(WTOP/Heather Gustafson)

D.C. Public Schools kept some students out of classes this past week over their vaccination status.

The students were reportedly behind on their routine vaccinations required by the school. This does not include the COVID-19 vaccine or booster shots.

This became a challenge for the students’ parents, who rushed to make appointments at clinics to get their children vaccinated and back into the classroom.

“The rush really started late last week,” said Dr. Nathaniel Beers, executive vice president of community and population health at Children’s National Hospital, which has several locations around the District.

Beers said Children’s National saw over 130 children for vaccines both Monday and Tuesday, with some locations reaching capacity by 6 p.m.

“This is the first year that the D.C. Health Department and D.C. schools have decided to actually keep children out of school due to their vaccination status,” Beers said. “There’s been a large push for a while about making sure kids are vaccinated in school.”

The Office of the State’s Superintendent of Education released a statement saying in part:

“District law requires students in all DC schools, including private, parochial, and independent schools, to be fully compliant with required vaccinations to attend school and that schools verify immunization certification for all students as part of enrollment and attendance. These laws, in place in all 50 states, have been on the books since the 1970s.”

Schools have been reaching out to families regarding immunizations since spring, giving them enough time to make sure their students are up to date, the OSSE said.

Beers said it’s about protecting the community, and there are pediatricians who have never even seen a case of chickenpox, measles or mumps.

“If you’ve not had the experience of knowing someone who has actually been hospitalized or even died from chickenpox, or if you’ve not had someone in your community who has had significant complications from measles or mumps, then it’s harder to maintain the focus on we need to continue to vaccinate individuals,” Beers said.

Heather Gustafson

Heather Gustafson is a Freelance Anchor/Reporter for WTOP, a DMV native and an Emmy award-winning journalist lauded for her 2020 Black Lives Matter protests coverage.

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