Coronavirus & Immunization

11-08-2020Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

There are currently six potential COVID-19 vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials--the last phase of testing before the potential vaccine can be submitted for FDA approval. Phase 3 clinical trials aim to study the effectiveness and safety of the injection of an active substance, meant to develop a protective response in the body’s immune system, versus a non-active substance (a placebo). Though it is not known for certain when a COVID vaccine will become available, plans for quick distribution and administration are already being made. Public health experts agree, a safe and effective vaccine will play a vital role in reducing transmission of this virus and help to bring the current pandemic under control. Each November, the Arizona Department of Health Services requires schools to submit an Immunization Data Report.

According to the Arizona Administrative Code R9-6-702 “any child attending school, preschool, or child care in Arizona is required by law to be fully immunized at the ages and intervals consistent with the rules for their age (preschool/child care), or grade (K-12th grades) or have proof of immunity” to highly contagious viral illnesses like whooping cough and measles.

Immunization against such diseases is a critical aspect of community health. Measles remains one of the most contagious viruses known to man. Every one person infected with measles, has the potential to infect 16-18 others! This explains why in order to keep measles out of a given community, 95% of those in the community must have immunity to the virus to provide a barrier to infection. When a large portion of the community is immune to a given disease, the spread of the disease from person to person is unlikely. This is what is referred to as “herd immunity”. When no one has immunity, as we have seen in this coronavirus pandemic, the results can be devastating. The isolating of harmful viruses and development of the immunizations to fight them is truly one of the greatest successes of medicine! While a vaccine for the coronavirus does not yet exist, let’s not forget the vaccines that do exist against 16 different viruses. In addition, the vaccine for the seasonal flu is currently available and all are encouraged to get it! If you need assistance finding a clinic to get your child’s immunizations updated, please contact the Nurse’s Office, all are available at no cost. While we are taking aggressive precautions to prevent exposure to the novel coronavirus, please don’t forget to protect your children, your family and your community against the not so “novel” viruses that can pose serious threats to the health of our students. Let’s continue to work and pray together-- “Home & School”-- for the health and well being of our families!