Before school begins, students entering New Britain schools for the first time or those who are new to the middle school or high school are required to get various immunizations.
According to the City health department, getting children all of the vaccines recommended by the center for Disease Control’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious diseases.
“When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and communities,” according to Francine Truglio, nursing supervisor at the city health department. “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check with your child’s doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs.”
Vaccines range from polio, to Hepatitis B to influenza and more.
“Typically, new kids coming into the district come early. Some providers send them information. A lot of pediatrician offices are booked,” said Truglio. “If they don’t have health insurance or even if they do, but can’t get an appointment, they can come to us.”
The New Britain Health Department is located at 88 Prospect St. Children who reside in New Britain will get their vaccinations for free.
“We want to make sure they get into school. Most vaccines are for kids from pre-school to the end of high school,” Truglio added. “We get the vaccines from the Vaccine for Children program from the state of Connecticut.”
About 8 vaccines are required for children and many need multiple doses.
“If you are a new student entering, you also need a physical within 30 days of school opening, but you must have your vaccines before school opens,” said Truglio. “We have some kids who may not be able to get shots. Everyone else needs to be vaccinated.”
There are religious or medical exemptions that must be filled out through the state health department website.
“We don’t let them in (school) if they don’t have these vaccinations or a notarized exemption form,” said Jacqueline Maddy, nursing supervisor for the school district. “The people who get caught are people who are behind on getting their shots. They get the first one and we let them in and they don’t get the second shot.”
There has been more vaccines added to the list by the State in the last few years. All pre-schoolers have to have an influenza vaccine by Dec. 31 of the school year. Hepatitis A has increased for Kindergarten and grades 1-6. A Tdap (tetanus, dyptheria and pertussis) and meningococcal vaccines has been added for 7th graders.
Maddy said you have to be 11 years old to get the shots and many are too young in sixth grade, but they need to get it before seventh grade.
“A lot of people are missing those so we see a large amount of students come in for that,” said Truglio. “Hpv is not a required vaccine, but is offered for students. It is for rectal or cervical cancer. It is very effective. The earlier you get it the better.”
It is considered a sexual disease and many parents do not want their children to have it.
When you come into the department, please bring your records. The health department does have access to the Puerto Rican registry, but cannot always get complete results.
“We get a lot of students displaced. We are really busy the day after school starts,” said Truglio. “Students should get vaccines early or they won’t allow you to stay at school.”
Maddy said parents should get in touch with their medical provider or the school to be sure students have proper vaccinations.
There are also vaccines at the health department for adults. Most people are charged costs, but some are free.
The State is holding free vaccination clinics to prevent the outbreak of Hepatitis A. Those at risk are IV users and homeless.
“We have not seen an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Connecticut thus far and we are actively taking steps to protect our people against such an outbreak,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. “While these clinics will be focused on the population most at risk for infection, they are available to anyone who wishes to be vaccinated.”
Visit a DPH website for more information.
There is also free Tdap vaccines for adults at the New Britain Health Department to help with people around new babies. It prevents pertussis (whooping cough) which can kill babies.
The New Britain Health Department is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.