As schools prepare for reopening in new ways due to COVID-19, children entering school still require vaccinations.

The West Piedmont Health District (WPHD) in Rocky Mount recently released safety precautions its health departments are taking to ensure the safety of children receiving immunizations and their caretakers.

Steve Bailey, nursing supervisor for the (WPHD), said it is just as important now as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic began to properly immunize children from a number of potentially deadly conditions, like diphtheria and tetanus.

“We want to assure our visitors that the health department is a safe place and that we are taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe as we prepare for back to school,” Bailey said.

For example, walk-in services will be discontinued in favor of appointments for vaccinations. This will reduce the number of people in the lobby so that social distancing guidelines can be maintained. Walk-ins will be given an appointment and asked to return at that time, explained Bailey. Masks will be required.

Clients who can safely do so will be asked to remain in their vehicles until they receive a text notification to enter the facility. Additionally, when clients are seen for an in-person visit, they will be screened for COVID-19 before entering the medical area of the building.

Symptomatic clients will be asked to reschedule. Bailey said only one parent should accompany the child. He further advised that toys have been removed from waiting areas, and he encourages parents to bring personal toys for their children.

“At the end of the day, we want parents to know that immunizations are still required for school entry and that they can safely bring their children to the health department for immunizations,” Bailey said.

Immunization schedules are different for the various health departments in the district. Parents should call the Franklin County Health Department at (540) 434-0292 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to schedule an appointment for their child’s vaccinations.

Below is a schedule for the Franklin County Health Department:

• All-day Tuesday immunization clinics for BTS efforts. 8:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. continue weekly until school starts, which is Monday, Aug. 10. By appointment only.

• Opening Friday July 31 and Aug. 7 for 8 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. By appointment only.

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