Local pediatrician stresses need for school vaccines during pandemic

Local News

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — This school year is a stressful time for many parents.
They’re finding out if their kids will be in the classroom, remote or a mixture of the two. But while they work out those details, pediatrician Rebekah Birti doesn’t want them to forget about vaccinations.

“We are rapidly approaching cold and flu season, which generally starts and coincides with the start of school in the September months,” she said. “It’s very important to protect kids from what we can protect them against.”

Birti works at Orchard Park Pediatrics and says the staff there really wants to make sure children are protected as the next flu season approaches. She says flu season starts to pick up after the school year begins and it’s their goal that their patients over the age of 6 months have their routine flu shot by the end of October.

There is still no vaccine for COVID-19 available. But Birti says a few of the symptoms of covid are similar to the flu and that it’s best to make sure kids are safe from any illness they risk catching while back in the classroom.

“COVID and influenza and other viral illnesses that children get in the fall and winter months can certainly overlap in the symptoms, especially since COVID can present in children as mild symptoms such as cough or a runny nose, as well as fever which the flu and other viral illnesses can as well.”

Children in New York State are required to be up to date on their vaccines for them to be at school. That includes their m-m-r, chickenpox, polio and tetanus shots.
From late March to early may orchard park pediatrics only saw children under the age of two to make sure babies were staying up to date with their immunizations.

Now they’re back to doing routine wellness visits with children of all ages.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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