Add COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to your back-to-school list

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School nurse placing bandage on a female elementary age student's arm after administering a vaccine. The medical professional and student are both wearing protective face masks.

Summer vacation is almost over, and back-to-school time is upon us. No matter how you and your learners like to prepare for the start of the school year—shopping for new folders, catching up on summer reading or soaking up the remaining sunny days—be sure to add getting caught up COVID-19 vaccinations to your list.

School is a precious time for children to learn and socialize, but unfortunately the sustained, close contact with students and staff inside school buildings gives viruses more opportunities to spread. Getting your kids vaccinated against COVID-19 is an easy and safe way to help protect your whole family and limit the spread inside your child’s school. Being vaccinated is also the best way to prevent extreme illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for kids

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for children age 6 months and older. They were tested in clinical trials with thousands of children from diverse populations participating over several months and were shown to generate good antibody levels. The vaccines have also been endorsed by pediatricians across the country, including The American Academy of Pediatrics.

While most children do not experience severe symptoms from a COVID-19 infection, some do. Some children may experience side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but these tend to be mild, temporary and like those experienced after routine vaccinations. Severe side effects from COVID-19 vaccination in children or adults are possible but extremely rare.

Start building immunity ASAP

Because the start of school is just around the corner, you can ensure the best protection for your child by starting their vaccination series as soon as possible. Depending on which vaccine they receive, your child may receive two or three doses as their “primary series” of vaccinations against COVID-19. It takes time to build immunity, and the series is shown to be fully effective approximately two weeks after the final shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 5 years and older get a single booster dose after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Check with the CDC for eligibility guidance on who can get a second booster.

Add the COVID-19 vaccine to your list of immunizations

If you visit the pediatrician for your standard child’s back-to-school immunizations, ask them about also getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s a question that we get from parents a lot– whether their kids can get the COVID-19 vaccines with their other routine vaccines,” said Emily Walsh, medical assistant and vaccine coordinator for Orchid Health Wade Creek Clinic in Estacada, which serves Estacada School District. “It is safe, and we frequently give different vaccines simultaneously. With kids going back to school, it is good to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as best as you can.”

Dr. Paul Cieslak, OHA senior health advisor and medical director, communicable diseases and immunizations program, agrees.

“Getting multiple vaccines at the same time is safe and just as effective as if you received them on different days,” said Cieslak. Plus, it saves you multiple trips to the doctor’s office.

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone regardless of immigration status or whether or not you have health insurance. Check our blog to find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you.