Preparing for school means gathering supplies and backpacks. It is also the perfect time to make sure children are up-to-date on their vaccines. Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health.
Vaccines are among the safest and most effective ways to prevent disease. Protecting your child from preventable diseases will help keep them healthy and in school. But vaccines don’t just protect your child.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their classroom and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions. Some diseases, like whooping cough, can be deadly for newborns or infants, many of whom are exposed to the disease by school-age siblings.
Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases because students can easily transmit illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and dense populations.
Because schools are a prime venue for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases, most schools require children to be up-to-date on vaccinations before enrolling or starting school in order to protect the health of all students.
Take advantage of any visit to the doctor – checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or college – to ask the doctor about what shots your child needs.
You can help protect our littlest community members from being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases by making sure your own child is up-to-date:
- Children age 4 to 6 are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and polio.
- Older children – like preteens and teens – need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MCV (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccines. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for all children 6 months and older.
As you get ready to send your children back to school, educate yourself. Learn about the benefits and possible side effects of vaccinations.
If you haven’t already, check your child’s immunization record and schedule a visit to their physician or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a potential last minute rush and will help make sure there are no surprises on the first day back to school.
The childhood immunization schedule for all recommended vaccines for infants and children is available at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/child.html, and the recommended schedule for ages 7 to 18 is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/preteen-teen.html.
National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) highlights the need for improving national immunization coverage levels by encouraging everyone to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases.