Back-to-school vaccinations required on the Suncoast, even for those in distance learning

Updated: Aug. 18, 2020 at 6:02 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - School is officially in session in Manatee County, and in Sarasota County the first day of classes are just a couple of weeks away. However, as parents and students gear up for a new normal, there is one thing all students need for safety, and it’s a requirement that has always been in place – vaccinations.

“Regardless if they are in the classroom, or e-learning, virtual or distance learning, the recommendations would be the same. We still need them to get these immunizations,” Michael Drennon, Disease Intervention Manager for the Sarasota County Health Department, tells ABC7.

The Health Department says that even though we are in a pandemic and the focus on back-to-school has shifted a bit, when it comes to vaccinations, this should be like any other school year. The state has a list of required immunizations, and whether you’re attending school in person or virtually, all students must be up-to-date with all of their shots to be successfully enrolled.

“It’s a not normal year for starting school. I can see how there can be a lot of questions and things like this would slip a parent’s mind – especially because it’s not easy to go to a doctor these days,” explained Dr. Scott Hopes, Epidemiologist and Manatee County School Board member.

However, these shots are still mandatory for all age groups. There are different vaccines depending on the grade-level to help develop these students’ immune systems.

“The immunization schedule is intended to help develop a child’s immune system that they’re going to carry with them through adulthood,” Dr. Hopes tells us.

These vaccinations are free in the state of Florida, and because of COVID-19, so are the forms that schools require as proof. All you have to do is make an appointment with either the Sarasota or Manatee County Health Departments to schedule your visit.

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