Flu shot generic

FILE - This Jan. 23, 2020 file photo shows a patient receiving a flu vaccination in Mesquite, Texas. On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the vaccine has been more than 50% effective in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a child to the doctor's office. Health experts consider that pretty good. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Doctors with Norton Children’s Medical Associates are encouraging parents to make sure their children are up to date on vaccinations required before school starts.

At least 36,000 school-aged children are behind on their vaccinations, according to Norton Healthcare data of existing patients. Based on heat maps, a large amount of those patients are clustered in south or west Louisville.

Pediatricians with Norton Children’s Medical Associates believe many families have been avoiding the doctor’s office in order to help prevent exposure to the coronavirus. However, it’s believed that could be causing a backup of vaccinations.

“In the two or three months that we’ve really been off because of the coronavirus, there’s lots of kids we would’ve typically seen during those visits that have really gotten behind on vaccinations,” said Dr. Sayeed Khan, a pediatrician at Norton Children’s in Fern Creek.

Khan said the fact at least 36,000 children are behind on their vaccines to be “very concerning.”

Kentucky requires students to be immunized ahead of school, with different vaccines for different age groups. And kids need an immunization certificate from their doctors to prove it. For Jefferson County Public Schools students, that needs to be on file within two weeks after starting school. For Head Start or state-funded Pre-K programs, it has to be done before school starts.

For a list of JCPS requirements, click here.

It is important, especially this school year, to make sure children are current on their vaccinations, Khan said.

“There is always a certain amount of inherent risk of not being vaccinated prior to rejoining your classmates, because you increase your risk by being around a lot more people than you were during quarantine," he said. "And that’s going to be interesting to see as we go into the fall as school starts to reopen."

Norton pediatricians encourage patients to make appointments as soon as possible.

“Right now, we have the space available to see patients, but I have a feeling as we get closer and closer to the school year that those spaces are going to start filling up fast,” Khan said.

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