(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health announced expanded efforts to encourage families to vaccinate their children ahead of the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. To help families be in compliance with required vaccinations for students to attend school, the District will offer expanded immunization access, conduct extensive outreach to families, and provide resources for schools and healthcare providers. Mayor Bowser made the announcement with community health partners at Children's National clinic at THEARC.
“We know that immunizations are essential in protecting the health of our children and our most vulnerable residents throughout our communities,” said Mayor Bowser. “We’re sending a clear message to DC families – now is the best time to visit your child’s pediatrician and have them fully up to date on their vaccinations so they can avoid missing a single day of school this fall. The District will do everything we can to make it even easier for families to access vaccinations throughout the summer.”
The best place for DC families to access immunizations is at their primary medical provider as part of their comprehensive well child care. If a family does not have a health care provider for their child, they can select one from a list of pediatric clinic locations, located in every ward. In addition, DC Health will expand access to vaccination services which include:
- School-Based Health Centers – Families with students ages 4 and older will be able to visit any School-Based Health Center regardless of where the student is enrolled for a vaccination-only appointment.
- District Mobile Medical Units – DC Health is also working with several community providers to place mobile units at schools, recreation centers, COVID centers, and other community locations in all eight wards, starting in August.
- Vaccine Exchange – Schools can use the Vaccine Exchange to request and coordinate on-site vaccination clinics with health providers.
“Routine childhood vaccinations are the best way parents can protect their children and community from serious diseases that spread easily,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, Senior Deputy Director of the Community Health Administration at DC Health. “Children who are not protected by vaccines are more likely to catch diseases like measles and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). DC families should make appointments now with their children’s regular medical provider to catch up on vaccinations before school starts.”
DC Health and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will coordinate closely to support outreach to families and provide additional resources to school communities. Starting this week, the DC Health Contact Trace Force will be mobilized to call families who are not up to date with immunizations and connect them with service providers. School-based staff will send letters to families of students who are missing one or more required immunizations. Messages will also go out to the general public about the importance of getting caught up on vaccinations.
“If your child is behind on their vaccinations, expect to hear from us,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “It’s so important for families to start now and get caught up on these shots. These resources in the community are available to help.”
District law requires students in all DC schools including private, parochial and independent schools, to be fully compliant with required vaccinations to attend school, and that schools verify immunization certification for all students as part of enrollment and attendance. A school shall not permit a student to attend for more than 20 school days while the school does not have certification of immunization for that student.
To learn more, please visit osse.dc.gov/immunization-attendance-policy.