Time running out to get Wichita students fully vaccinated before school year, doctors warn

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita students are six weeks out from the first day of the the 2021-2022 school year and altogether, it takes five weeks to receive both doses of COVID-19 vaccine and build full immunity. Pediatricians warn that if parents want their children fully protected against COVID-19 by the time school starts, they need to schedule the appointment in the next week.

While many students have high hopes for the upcoming school year, the reality is that not all students will be vaccinated. With that, health officials have new concerns over the delta variant spreading.

“I feel my kids going to school, I feel besides their home, I feel like school is another safe space for them,” said Wichita parent Holley Dexter.

With safety a top priority for parents, she said she feels that the COVID-19 vaccine should be added to the immunization requirements for the school year. Currently, vaccination rates for 12-to-16-year-olds in Kansas are relatively low.

“Obviously, there were kids getting vaccinated, but the rates weren’t very high,” said Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Robert Wittler.

He said it’s not just the COVID vaccine that students are skipping. Certain vaccinate rates have dropped as much as 95 percent in the last year.

“Across the U.S., kids are behind in immunizations,” Dr. Wittler said. “I’m not just talking about COVID, I’m talking about all vaccinations. We don’t want other illnesses to emerge because they aren’t being vaccinated.”

Students in the Wichita school district need the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by July 8 to have full immunity by the first day of school.

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