Health officials warn parents to get kids vaccinated before heading back to school

Young girl doing her school work

This story appeared in WILX. Read the full story here.

Summer is coming to an end and kids will be back in the classroom sooner than later. Doctors are warning parents of back-to-school health advice that will keep you and your kids safe this school year.

With an up tick in COVID cases, lingering RSV concerns, and flu season approaching, parents said they are concerned for the safety of their kids when they’re back in the classroom in just a few weeks. Back in the classroom meaning kids will be sitting close together and sharing classroom supplies. Health official are calling it — the perfect recipe for common colds and viruses.

Local mother, Venus Henderson-Hughes said homework is the only thing she wants her kids bringing home this year. “I had concerns last year because last year was their first year going back.”

And the concerns returned this year for Henderson-Hughes, who has three kids enrolled in the Lansing School District. Two of them have asthma.

“So it’s a huge concern with how COVID would affect them. And just trying to be careful enough that they are not exposed but again we don’t know who goes through those schools. So, that’s my biggest concern.”

Doctors warn parents to get their kids tested and vaccinated against the infection that affects your lungs and breathing. “RSV and the pediatric population is always a concern and it’s something that fills the pediatric unit during RSV season every year,” said Dr. Zach Goldstein, Pediatrician in Okemos.

Henry Ford Health’s Dr. Dennis Cunningham said treatments for kids may look a little different this year. “Kids who are very young – eight months of age and under – are going to be eligible for an RSV prevention treatment. It’s not a vaccine, but a long-acting antibody or protein that will protect them against the RSV virus.”

Dr. Cunningham said kids will also be eligible for COVID boosters this year. “It’s being revamped or tweaked a little bit just so it will work better against the different omicron strains that are circulating right now.”

School is starting… but Henderson-Hughes said her concerns aren’t ending.

She’s making sure her kids do their part to protect themselves… and others. “Hyper vigilant with hand washing. Making sure that they correctly wash their hands. But also letting them know that it’s okay to be the only one in class with a mask on.”

According to doctors, it’s hard to tell if your kid has COVID, the flu, or RSV. Doctors recommend getting tested. To find testing in your area, use the Testing Site Finder.

In Michigan’s latest immunization report card, vaccination rates for kids, three and under, and teenagers are down across the state. That’s why health officials are encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated before heading back to class.

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You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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