On or before the first day of school, all K-12 students in Washington state must be up to date on vaccinations required for school, King County announced this week.

Childhood vaccination rates have fallen in recent years; now is the best time to get caught up.

Families are encouraged to beat the back-to-school rush and make a vaccination appointment with their child’s healthcare provider now.

In addition, upcoming COVID-19 vaccines and vaccinations required for school entry are available to children through age 18 at no-cost, convenient vaccination events throughout the summer and early fall. These events are hosted by Go-Vax Kids, HealthPoint, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, and Stepping Stone Pediatrics in collaboration with school districts and community-based organizations. Check Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Find a Clinic webpage for a list of no-cost vaccination events, locations, and times. This webpage will be continuously updated as additional events are scheduled.

Each of these events will provide COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as well as all vaccines required for K-12 school entry, including Tdap, DTaP, MMR, hepatitis B, varicella, and polio. Every child who gets vaccinated at these clinics will receive two free tickets to a Seattle Storm home game, while supplies last.

These events are intended for children through age 18 living in south King County, as well as children who are uninsured, are experiencing homelessness, or who recently moved to the U.S. and do not have a healthcare provider.

Children do not need to be an established patient to receive free vaccinations at any of these events. Vaccinations will be available at no-cost, regardless of immigration or citizenship status. Families may be asked for insurance information but won’t be charged. No one will be turned away for lack of insurance.

Please wear short sleeves. Families are strongly encouraged to bring any vaccination records from other states or countries. Interpretation available upon request.

Childhood vaccination rates

Childhood vaccination rates have dropped since the pandemic began and it has been difficult to recover lost ground. Coverage among kindergarten students in King County dropped from a high of 92% during the 2019-20 school year to 88% during the 2022-23 school year. More specifically, 92% of incoming kindergartners in King County in the 2022-23 school year were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. This is three percentage points below the U.S. Department of Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 goal of 95%, which is commonly regarded as the vaccination rate needed to achieve herd immunity.

“Vaccines protect us from infections that can cause serious harm to infants, children and adults. This includes measles which is a highly contagious but vaccine preventable viral infection. So far in 2023, there have been 18 confirmed measles cases in the United States, 3 of which were here in King County,” said Dr. Eric Chow, Communicable Disease Chief for Public Health – Seattle & King County, “Making sure your child is up to date on the recommended vaccinations is important to preventing the spread of these diseases. The best time to get up to date with recommended vaccinations is now.”

Washington State Department of Health provides a complete list of vaccinations required for K-12 school and childcare.

More information available at www.kingcounty.gov/findaclinic

Scott Schaefer

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