Back to School Preparation Should Include Vaccinations for New Hampshire Students

Back to School Preparation Should Include Vaccinations for New Hampshire Students
By Colleen Whitcomb, Academic Advisor, Southern New Hampshire University
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted access to healthcare services and basic childhood vaccinations across the world. This has caused many children to fall behind on the recommended immunization schedule. According to the World Health Organization, in 2020, there were 23 million children who did not receive routine vaccinations (WHO, 2021). The United Nations reports that this number grew to 25 million children in 2021 who missed routine vaccinations (Rigby, 2022). Routine childhood vaccinations are critical to children’s health as they protect against several diseases which can be life-threatening (Rigby, 2022). Adolescents are a population who have seen decreased wellness visits since the beginning of the pandemic. 
 
It is important for New Hampshire children to get caught up on vaccinations that may have been missed since the beginning of the pandemic. Schools have a higher risk for transmission of diseases that are preventable with vaccines. The New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services monitors immunization rates for schools throughout the state. During the 2021-2022 school year, public schools in New Hampshire had 94% of enrolled students up to date on required vaccines and 92% of enrolled students in private schools (NH Division of Public Health Services, 2022). 
 
New Hampshire Public Health Association's VaxWell New Hampshire is launching the Vaccination Starts with You campaign in partnership with the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services. The campaign will launch on August 8, 2022. According to NHPHA Executive Director, Hanan Bedri, “The campaign brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including healthcare providers, school nurses, community health workers, and other key influencers, to remind families that summer is a perfect time to catch up on wellness visits and vaccinations so that their children and teens don’t miss out on school and other activities next fall.” The campaign will use email, posters/flyers, and social media to spread the message that families can follow these simple steps to get caught up on well visits and vaccinations: 
  1. Contact your healthcare provider and schedule a yearly wellness visit
  2. Ask them to make sure all vaccines are up to date
Public health providers can share the resources below with the populations they serve to make sure they are aware of the required immunizations for New Hampshire schools. If you have any questions about the Vaccination Starts with You campaign, please reach out to Hanan Bedri ([email protected]). 
 
Resources

References
NH Division of Public Health Services. (2022). Annual School Immunization Report. Retrieved from: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt476/files/documents2/surveyresults-2022.pdf
 
Rigby, J. (2022). Pandemic behind ‘largest backslide in childhood vaccination in a generation,’ UN says. Reuters. Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pandemic-behind-largest-backslide-childhood-vaccination-generation-un-2022-07-15/
 
World Health Organization (WHO). (2021). COVID-19 pandemic leads to major backsliding on childhood Vaccinations, new WHO, UNICEF data shows. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2021-covid-19-pandemic-leads-to-major-backsliding-on-childhood-vaccinations-new-who-unicef-data-shows

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