Beginning in August, the Loudoun County Health Department will open its clinic’s doors on Saturdays, to make it easy for students to receive state-required immunizations.
Health Department Director David Goodfriend wants to make it as easy as possible for students to receive their immunizations before September.
"The last thing we want is a child getting turned away from school because they don’t have their immunization shots," he said.
On July 1, Virginia passed a law requiring sixth-graders receive Boostrix, the new tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine.
Pertussis, commonly referred to as the whooping cough, is a severe cough that takes several weeks to a month to get over without treatment, Goodfriend said. It is contagious and can be deadly to small children.
The Health Department will open its Shenandoah Building Clinic, 102 Heritage Way, N.E., Leesburg, every Saturday in August, 9 a.m. to noon. The clinic operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students are required to bring a current immunization record with them and students under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent. Goodfriend said it’s import for patients to eat breakfast before receiving immunizations.
THE BOOSTRIX VACCINE requirement is one of the main reasons the Health Department is opening its Shenandoah clinic’s doors on Saturdays.
"Families in Loudoun County are typically very good at getting vaccines on time," Goodfriend said. "It’s rare a child gets turned away for not having required vaccines."
The Boostrix vaccine is fairly new and so, it is important for students to receive the vaccination to protect their families. While the majority of parents received the old tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine, it tends to ware off, Goodfriend said.
"This way we are keeping families safe," he added. "We are protecting parents as well."
Before a student is enrolled in Loudoun County Public Schools, spokesperson Wayde Byard said staff goes over required vaccines with parents.
"It is very, very rare for students not to have their inoculations by the time school starts," he said.
If a student doesn’t have all the required shots by the first day of classes, staff will take students to the clinic that day to receive them.
"They get their inoculations immediately," Byard said. "We work very closely with the Health Department."
THE HEALTH Department will make vaccinating students its priority on Saturdays.
"Saturdays are reserved for students who need the required shots to attend school," Goodfriend said. "We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for parents and for students to attend school in September."
The Health Department encourages other patients wanting to receive immunizations to visit the clinic during its normal walk-in hours, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m., and Tuesdays, 1 to 5 p.m.