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Official says children may be behind on school vaccinations due to COVID-19 pandemic

MONROE, La. (KNOE) – Jeff Toms, Region 8 Regional Administrator for the Louisiana Office of Public Health, said children may be behind on school vaccines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though private providers may be different, Toms said local parish health units are currently only doing vaccinations one day a week, which varies depending on the unit. He said they shut down the vaccine program for a few months in mid-March.

“In June, we started back up the vaccination program, the vaccine for children, but it was limited to one day a week, and a limited amount of service to not have more than we needed in the health unit at a time,” he said.

Toms said the Ouachita parish unit isn’t currently taking appointments, but they will be later on.

He said there was a slow start-up once they resumed vaccinations, but he said it’s been slowly building back up.

“More people are calling for appointments than they did at the first of the month in June.”

With school starting soon, children will be required to get vaccinated for diseases like measles, mumps, and tetanus.

“While we are in the middle of a pandemic, you know we don’t want to lose sight of falling behind on preventable diseases that we have vaccines available for, so you know, it’s important that even though this is going on, to get your children up to date on the vaccines.”

People can contact their local Health Unit to set up an appointment, barring Ouachita parish.

According to the state Department of Health:

“Students can participate in school without the required immunizations listed above if either of the following are presented: 1) a written statement from a physician stating that the procedure is contraindicated for medical reasons; or 2) written dissent from the parent/guardian.”

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