Last-minute rush to get students vaccinated causes local clinics to run out of meningitis immunization

Investigative

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — New state-mandated vaccine requirements continue to cause headaches as families get ready to send their students back to school.

As of July 1, there are new vaccine requirements for students entering kindergarten, seventh grade, and their senior year of high school. Although these vaccines aren’t new, the increased demand for them is.

Locally, parents are frustrated by a lack of accessibility to one of the vaccines in particular — the Meningococcal Conjugate immunization. The vaccine protects people from meningitis and is required for Virginia students entering the seventh and 12th grades.

The Virginia Department of Health confirmed that there is no shortage of the meningitis vaccine, but local health departments have run out of in-house supply during immunization clinics because of increased demand.

Last week, parents were frustrated when the Chesapeake Health Department ran out of doses. On Monday, the Norfolk Department of Public Health also ran out during a back-to-school vaccine clinic at Military Circle Mall.

Dr. Paraham Jaberi is the acting director of the Norfolk Department of Public Health. He said that health experts expect to see a rush for vaccines during back-to-school season, and locally they were prepared to provide doses that meet the state requirements. However, earlier vaccination events designed to meet the new demand went largely unattended by the public.

The Norfolk Department of Public Health offered five back-to-school vaccine clinics in August. All of them had a low turnout. Then, on Tuesday, staff were prepared to vaccinate 50 people but had far more show up than expected.

10 On Your Side reached out to local school districts to see how they’re working with families to meet back-to-school vaccine requirements. Here are the responses we’ve received so far:

  • Chesapeake Public Schools is currently in talks with VDH to address the limited supply of the meningitis vaccine. A large number of parents are still working to secure this vaccine, and CPS will communicate details to these families as they become available.
  • Newport News Public Schools is keeping track of all required vaccinations, and school nurses are in communication with families that need to meet those requirements. School nurses are working with families until stock levels of the meningitis vaccine become available. They are requesting that families provide vaccine appointment cards from providers to be able to start school on time.

This story will be updated

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