Mommy Minute: Will parents get more time for school physicals, vaccinations?

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With school set to start in about a month, some parents might be curious if children will still be required to show proof of immunizations as well as dental and medical check-ups.

The short answer is yes. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic there may be a longer grace period.

School kids in Pennsylvania are required to be up-to-date on their vaccinations within five days of the start of school. What’s more; kids in Kindergarten, 6th and 11th grades need a medical exam. Kids in Kindergarten, 3rd and 7th grades need to show proof of a dental exam.

This year, parents may find it harder to schedule those exams, especially dental check-ups, because offices were closed for so many months. Many practices undoubtedly have a backlog of patients.

State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine tells abc27 that because of that, state officials may consider extending a longer grace period to parents. But, she says, these exams and critically important vaccines will not be optional.

“We don’t want parents to wait,” Dr. Levine said. “If they can get an appointment with their pediatrician then they should have their children have that yearly check-up. The pediatricians will be giving the routine immunization schedule as set forth by the American Acaademy of Pediatrics and the CDC, so parents shouldn’t wait.”

Local health systems say their wait time for physicals aren’t all that long. Geisinger Holy Spirit and Wellspan Health both said they can usually schedule an appointment within a week of calling. Penn State Health also said getting an appointment isn’t difficult, but that they have seen a drop in the number of vaccinations due to the pandemic. They recommend parents call now to get their child’s appointment scheduled.

As for an decisions on a grace period because of the pandemic, Dr. Levine says parents should stay tuned.

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