With Schools Starting Online, Vaccinations Head for Recess

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Dr. Chris Kjolhede is focused on the children of central New York.
As co-director of school-based health centers at Bassett Healthcare Network, the pediatrician oversees about 21 school-based health clinics across the region — a poor, rural area known for manufacturing and crippled by the opioid epidemic.
From ankles sprained during recess to birth control questions, the clinics serve as the primary care provider for many children both in and out of the classroom. High on the to-do list is making sure kids are up to date on required vaccinations, said Kjolhede.
But, in March, COVID upended the arrangement when it forced schools to close.
“It was like, holy smokes,” he said, “what’s going to happen now?”

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Schools play a pivotal role in U.S. vaccination efforts. Laws require children to have certain immunizations to enroll and attend classes.
But this academic year, to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, many school districts have opted to start classes online. The decision takes away much of the back-to-school leverage pushing parents to stay current on their children’s shots, said …

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