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New safety guidelines for immunizations announced

As schools prepare for reopening in new ways due to COVID-19, children entering school still require vaccinations, and the West Piedmont Health District (WPHD) released safety precautions its health departments are taking to ensure the safety of children receiving immunizations and their caretakers. Steve Bailey, nursing supervisor for the WPHD, said it is just as important now as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic began to properly immunize children from a number of potentially deadly conditions, like diphtheria and tetanus.

“We want to assure our visitors that the health department is a safe place and that we are taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe as we prepare for back to school,” Bailey said. For example, walk-in services will be discontinued in favor of appointments for vaccinations. This will reduce the number of people in the lobby so that social distancing guidelines can be maintained. Walk-ins will be given an appointment and asked to return at that time, said Bailey. Masks will be required. Clients who can safely do so will be asked to remain in their vehicles until they receive a text notification to enter the facility. Additionally, when clients are seen for an in-person visit, they will be screened for COVID-19 before entering the medical area of the building.

Symptomatic clients will be asked to reschedule.

Bailey said only one parent should accompany the child. He further advised that toys have been removed from waiting areas, and he encouraged parents to bring personal toys for their children.

“At the end of the day, we want parents to know that immunizations are still required for school entry and that they can safely bring their children to the health department for immunizations,” Bailey said. Immunization schedules are different for the various health departments in the district – schedules are below.

Parents are asked to call the health department nearest them to schedule an appointment for their child’s vaccinations.

Patrick County Health Department: (276) 693-2070 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • The following Mondays: 7/27, 8/3, 8/10 — open 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. By appointment only. Walk-ins are to call upon arrival for possible scheduling.
  • There may be another 1/2 day, depending upon demand.

Henry-Martinsville Health Department: (276) 638-2311 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • Starting Thursday July 9, afternoon clinic by appointment only- 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. for BTS vaccines. This clinic will be weekly as needed.
  • Starting Monday July 13- all day Monday immunization clinics. 8 to 11:15 a.m., and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. by appointment only. Continuing all day weekly on Mondays until school starts.

Franklin County Health Department: (540) 434-0292 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • Starting July 14, all day Tuesday immunization clinics for BTS efforts. 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. continue weekly until school starts which is Monday, Aug. 10., by appointment only
  • Opening Friday 7/31 and 8/7; 8 to 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., by appointment only.

Information about required childhood immunizations can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/growing/school-vaccinations.html.

Information about vaccinations for teens is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/adolescent.

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