RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond leaders plan to kick off National Immunizations Awareness Month, emphasizing the importance of vaccinating children, during the launch of the “Don’t Wait Vaccinate” campaign.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras and Richmond City Health District Nurse Manager & Director of Community Engagement Amy Popovich made the announcement at Diversity Richmond on Wednesday.
During the event, parents and caregivers received guidance on the new Virginia law for childhood immunizations and school vaccination requirements. Virginia law requires students to be vaccinated prior to entering schools.
“On-time vaccination throughout the childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life threatening diseases,” Stoney said. “During these difficult times, we want to make sure that our children’s’ health is protected.”
The campaign aims to provide easier access to vaccinations for those uninsured or under-insured.
As the world continues to battle COVID-19, city leaders are hoping to aid with protecting the youth from all diseases. The Richmond area currently has the highest rate of HPV cancers in the state.
“That is especially important right now when having a suppressed immune system makes you more vulnerable to the coronavirus,” Kamras said.
Kamras adds that it is critical that students are vaccinated even as the school district plans to begin the 2020-21 school year virtually.
8News obtained data from May 31 that shows Virginia has a 23 percent lower vaccination rate than previous years. According to the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, there have been disruptions in immunization, appointments and doctor’s visits.
“Many clinics were closed or narrowed particularly in the March to beginning of June window,” Popovich said. “While we don’t want to make anyone’s choices for them, we do want to make sure that we’re getting the facts out there.”
When receiving a vaccination, temperature checks will be performed and masks are required, officials added. Patients must also bring their immunization records.
Click here to visit the Richmond City Health District’s website to find locations offering vaccinations.
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