LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Kids are heading back to school, which means getting the school supplies kids need and staying up to date on required vaccinations.

“I got an email from his school stating that they are offering to pay for vaccinations before the children return back on campus,” said parent Barbara Chase.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, they have seen an increase in immunizations for 7 of the 12 required vaccinations this year compared to 2021.

“Vaccines save lives. They work. These vaccines are 90-99% effective,” said Pediatrician at Arkansas Children’s and a professor of pediatrics at UAMS, Laura Sisterhen.

Doctor Sisterhen said from kindergarten to seventh grade, vaccines kids need, “include diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, which is also called whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and hepatitis A and B”.

Once they are in the seventh grade, kids then are required to receive, “a vaccine that protects against meningitis, caused by bacteria called meningococcus,” said Sisterhen.

The Health Department requires all kids attending public and private schools to get required vaccinations.

Barbara Chase said her son’s school is allowing children who don’t get vaccinated to attend virtually.

“We have options…utilize them. instead of fighting about anti-vax and vaccination, just use your resources,” said Chase.

Students are able to get individual exemptions for three reasons, medical – which requires a physician’s letter, religious, and philosophical.

Dr. Sisterhen said if you have concerns about vaccinations, talk with your doctor.

“A child’s pediatrician is committed to the health and wellbeing of children, they want to have conversations with you,” said Sisterhen.

For information about the vaccines required or the exemption form, visit The Arkansas Department of Health Website.

You can also visit the CDC’s website for more information.