CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — As children head back to school, 10 On Your Side is looking at vaccination trends.

Since the beginning of the pandemic the CDC reports the number of kindergarteners up to date on their immunizations in the U.S. has ticked down.

Even before the pandemic, the World Health Organization warned vaccine hesitancy was one of the top 10 global health threats.

Doctors with the Virginia Department of Health want to remind parents, not only are vaccinations required by law, they protect children and the community.

“It’s important in general to reduce absenteeism but then also for families, especially families with infants,” said Chesapeake Deputy Health Director Dr. Billie Blair-Taylor.

Virginia law requires all children entering daycare, kindergarten, 7th and 12th grades to show proof of vaccination. If your child doesn’t have the shots, they may get sent home.

Virginia requires a minimum of 11 vaccinations.

“Some of the vaccines that are required include measles, mumps and rubella, as well as pertussis, hepatitis A,” Blair-Taylor said, “so all of these things to try to prevent outbreaks.”

In recent years, she said there have been outbreaks of measles and pertussis, (whopping cough) in the U.S. both are highly contagious and can lead to severe complications, even death.

“Whooping cough particularly is a population that is very vulnerable, our young infants,” Blair-Taylor said, “so that’s why we try to create herd immunity in those that are around them the family members, those who are caring for the infants.”

Parents may opt out of the HPV shot, which is recommended for rising 7th graders, but doctors recommend the vaccine that protects against six kinds of cancer, including cervical cancer in women.

If you’re not sure whether your child is up to date on vaccines, check with their pediatrician.
You can get the shots at the doctor’s office, your local health department or at some pharmacies that offer vaccinations.

Vaccination rates are coming back up in Virginia post pandemic, data shows.

The Virginia Department of Health tracks immunization rates by school. To see what percentage of students have received their required shots in your school click here.