School immunization clinics to be held for N.S. Grade 7 students who missed vaccinations

Grade 7 students to receive vaccinations in July and August
WATCH: Summer immunization clinics set to start for Grade 7 students who didn't receive their full vaccinations due to the early closure of the school year.

Nova Scotia Public Health will be holding school immunization clinics for Grade 7 students who missed vaccinations during the regular school year due to coronavirus lockdowns.

We need to make sure that the students who just graduated from Grade 7 get their vaccinations throughout the summer. So, Public Health will be holding clinics in July and August for the recently graduated Grade 7 students,” Dr. Robert Strang said, the chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia.

In a news release Friday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) said 2019-20 seventh graders will be able to get up-to-date on immunizations at clinics hosted by Public Health in July and August.

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Public Health officials say upwards of 9,000 students get vaccinated every school year and the immunization clinics being held over July and August aim to ensure there isn’t a backlog of students in need come September.

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COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place to ensure the risk of virus transmission with the clinics remain low.

“We are following very strict guidelines from our infection prevention control partners. We’ve also worked with our industrial engineer colleagues with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to make sure that the clinics are run smoothly. That social distancing is maintained,” Cara-Leah Hmidan said, the public health manager for the central zone.

The aim is to have the clinics run out of high schools that juniour high schools feed into.

Hmidan says once those clinics are complete, other venues will be considered for teenagers to be vaccinated in.

The second round of clinics for this past school year was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic response.

“It was necessary to postpone the second round of clinics for the past school year but we are really happy to be able to offer these now so that students can be up to date on immunizations before the next school year starts,” said Cara-Leah Hmidan, health protection manager with NSHA Public Health, in a statement.

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One of the key considerations for the clinics, Public Health says, is following guidelines around safety from COVID-19.

“While we are encouraged at the decline of COVID-19 activity in Nova Scotia, we are taking all appropriate precautions and following guidelines to reduce risk of any COVID-19 transmission at the clinics,” said Hmidan.

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Public Health says this includes designing a new flow process, having additional staff present to support students, ensuring access to handwashing/hand sanitizer and regular cleaning according to the same guidelines used at other medical clinics. Students will also get to make appointments for the clinics, to help with the number of people present at any one time and also make it easier for families to accommodate.

The decline in COVID-19 activity also means more team members are now available to host and run the clinics.

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Hmidan says they don’t want students to get behind on their immunizations and have the fullest protection possible when it comes to Hepatitis B, Human Papillomavirus, Meningococcal Disease, Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Acellular Pertussis.