In addition to new clothes, shoes and supplies, school readiness also involves getting children vaccinated. Valley Health is here to help parents, grandparents and other caregivers get children up to date on their required vaccines prior to the start of school.

Valley Health locations are part of the West Virginia and Ohio Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program, which ensures that all children in our service area have the opportunity to receive their recommended vaccinations on schedule, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Vaccinations protect babies, young children and adolescents from 16 diseases.

All vaccines under the VFC program are free to qualifying children, although other fees may apply.  To qualify, children must be younger than 19 years of age and Medicaid-eligible, uninsured or underinsured.

Now is the perfect time for parents to ensure that their children’s immunizations are in check. West Virginia law requires that all children enrolled in a public, private or parochial school in the state, or at a state-regulated child care center, be appropriately immunized prior to admission. In particular, children entering Pre-K, Kindergarten, second grade, seventh grade and twelfth grade will need to have their vaccinations up to date before school starts in the fall. Ohio has very similar requirements for students entering Kindergarten, seventh and twelfth grades.

Parents of infants should also ensure that their babies are immunized. Following the recommended immunization schedule protects infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they come into contact with potentially life-threatening diseases.

Some adults have concerns about the safety of vaccines and about the number of shots that may be given to a child during one doctor’s visit. Healthcare providers, like Valley Health, have confidence and trust that vaccines are safe and effective. Research and constant monitoring have generated data to show vaccines are highly protective against serious diseases, and any side effects are mild and rare. Three or four shots given to a baby may seem a lot, but it adds up to protection against more than a dozen diseases and contains fewer antigens than what a baby encounters every day in normal exposure to the world.

For more information about the VFC program or to make an appointment to update your child’s immunizations, please call your neighborhood Valley Health center.