Original article written by Breona Couloote for the Hunts Point Expresss
As students are returning to school across New York State, Urban Health Plan is looking to address COVID-19 concerns for children and their families across the South Bronx. Dr. Viju Jacob, current board member of the New York School-Based Health Alliance, is the director for Urban Health Plan’s school-based health programs, and wants to ensure that his clinics are prepared for the challenges of the upcoming school year. Dr. Jacob emphasizes the importance of prioritizing students who missed their routine check-ups and immunizations during quarantine, "Our goal is that once the students are back in the building, is to kind of catch them up on any missed immunizations and get them ready for flu season with the flu immunization,” he added. Data released by the CDC reports that vaccination rates decreased to 96% for children over the age of two in New York City. Missing a routine immunizations can compromise a child’s immune system, raising the child’s risk of catching a disease, including COVID-19. Furthermore, symptoms of COVID-19 are difficult to discern from the flu, and therefore it is important that children also receive their flu shot this year to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.