Steve Huard

Steve Huard

It’s almost time for students to go back to school.

While the COVID-19 vaccine has been questioned by some skeptics, students must be vaccinated with other shots before school begins Tuesday.

The Daily Sun/Venice Gondolier reached out to Gerald S. Huard, Sarasota County Health Department spokesperson, to learn more about required vaccines for all Florida public school students.

What vaccines are required for all Florida public, charter school children?

Kindergartners need a second measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles), MMR, and Varicella and another dose of DTaP (diphtheria, pertussis or whooping cough), and tetanus shot and a polio vaccine (all four available in just two shots). Seventh graders will need a TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) and should have those optional listed in the next question for their health.

Are there any optional ones the health department recommends, for example, chicken pox or HPPV vaccine?

Absolutely. HPV, MCV4, Hep A, the flu and when available and COVID-19 for those age 12 and older.

Are there any new vaccines required this year?

No.

Are students required to get the COVID-19 vaccines? If old enough, why should they?

No, they are not required to get COVID vaccine if they are old enough. But if anyone in their class is diagnosed with COVID, they will need to quarantine for 10 days if not vaccinated. Likewise if they are playing sports and a team member is diagnosed with COVID, they cannot play the sport and will be quarantined for 10 days if not fully vaccinated.


What is the effective rate of the required vaccines in children?

Overall, it’s 89.8% for kindergarten students with (8.1% not getting the vaccine for religious exemptions). At the seventh-grade requirement, it’s 93.6% (with 5.7% not getting it for religious reasons). The statewide average for kindergarten is 93.3% and at seventh grade it’s 94.5% and the The state goal is 95% for both groups.

Can a child be sent home from school for not being vaccinated for the required shots?

Enrollment will be denied any child who cannot show proof of required vaccinations, unless they have an exemption. They are required to get any missing vaccines and then the documentation will be provided.

What misinformation keeps parents from getting their child vaccinated? What’s the truth?

Parents think vaccines cause autism. In fact, the changes occurring in the brains of autistic children are present prenatally. We don’t know the causes of autism, but we do know it isn’t vaccines.”

Are there harmful ingredients in these vaccines which could cause a child to get very sick?

No, although there are a rarely some children who are allergic to one or more ingredient in a vaccine.

What if a parent can’t find their child’s shot record?

They should check with their child’s healthcare provider. If coming from out of town, they could also check with the school district from which they came.

Are these shots free? Where can you get them?

Vaccines are offered at health departments, at no cost to recipient/parent for children from birth through age 18, or until they graduate from high school, whichever is later. An appointment is required for vaccines, except walk-ins from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday in North Port (6950 Outreach Way, off Pan American Boulevard) and 5 to 6 p.m. in Sarasota (2200 Ringling Blvd.) on Monday.

For more information on vaccines at local health departments in Sarasota County, call 941-861-2900 or in Charlotte County, call 941-624-7200.

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