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Health officials urge parents to check their children's vaccination status before school begins

Man with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.
Shutterstock/Courtesy National Institutes of Health
Man with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.

The Spokane Regional Health District is encouraging parents to review their children’s vaccination records as the new school year approaches to see if they’re missing anything.

Kayla Myers, the district’s immunization program coordinator, says nearly 70% of Spokane County children from a year-and-a-half to three years old have received all of the vaccinations that are recommended. The percentage is similar for four-to-six-year-old kids.

Myers said in a recent SRHD Facebook Live chat that children who fall behind in vaccinations often haven’t received the last shot in a series.

“I wanted to just use that as a reminder for parents. When you start scheduling these back-to-school visits to make sure you’re asking your provider if they have all the recommended doses necessary that they can receive at that time,” she said.

Myers says the Washington Vaccine Advisory Committee has adjusted the age at which children should get the shot for the human papilloma virus, or HPV. It’s a vaccine that public health officials say protects children from contracting several types of cancer. The recommended age used to be 11 or 12. Now it’s 9.

“The reason why is because it is a more robust response, the younger they are, when they get the vaccine and they’re more likely to finish the series, which is a two-dose series if you start before the age of 15. If you start the HPV vaccine after the age of 15, it turns into a three-dose series,” she said.

Myers also recommends children (and adults) receive the most up-to-date Covid vaccine, if they haven’t already. She says an updated Covid vaccine offering protection against the most active variants is expected to be released this fall. Myers hopes it will be available this fall so that people might be able to receive it at the same time they get their yearly shots.

The health district is offering two childhood vaccination clinics this week. The first is at Deer Park Middle School Tuesday between 3 and 6 pm. The second is Wednesday at the Salvation Army’s Backpacks for Kids distribution event, between 9 and noon at 204 East Indiana. Appointments aren’t needed for either one. You can just walk in.

Myers says parents who have trouble finding their children’s immunization records can look for that information at the Washington Department of Health’s My Immunization Record website, where you can view, download and print your family immunization documents. She says you may also be able to access your records at your local pharmacy, clinic or children’s school.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.