Back-to-School Vaccines Available Early

To avoid potentially long lines, parents are being encouraged to get their children’s back-to-school vaccinations updated now.

“My main message is don’t wait until August – the lines are far, far less,” said Becky Beckett, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department nursing supervisor. “Come early and avoid the long lines.”

Beckett said many parents wait until the last minute to get their children’s shots updated at the health department, located at 1500 Chapline St. But it is easier for the children and parents if they do it during the summer months.

“Every year we have huge big backup right when school is ready to start – it’s an inconvenience. They can come now and the wait is not even close,” Beckett said.

For those entering kindergarten, the shots are usually the last of the child’s regular baby shots. For those entering seventh or 12th grades, shots that must be updated in West Virginia are the Tdap and meningococcal.

“Boosters are needed at those times and are legally required in West Virginia,” Beckett said. “For children entering kindergarten as soon as they turn age 4 we can give immunizations. You don’t have to wait until just before the school year starts.”

Walk-in clinics at the Wheeling health department are held from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Wednesdays. An official shot record is required.

Also new this year, if one has insurance, they must have their doctor sign a form saying they do not stock the vaccines needed by the child. Most doctors have the form, but the health department can provide it.

Beckett said the health department continues to serve children of families coming to the area to work in the natural gas fields.

“We have a lot of new people in the community because of the drilling industry. Some of them come from states where vaccinations are not required – the older kids need things before they are allowed into schools, and they want to get into school as quickly as possible,” she said.