Extension Educator – Health & Human Sciences
Purdue Extension Elkhart County
Add Vaccines to Your Back to School Checklist
Back-to-school season is here. It is a time for parents to gather school supplies and backpacks. It is also the perfect time to make sure your kids are up-to-date on their vaccines. One of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations.
Making sure children have all of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the most important things parents can do to help protect their children’s health—and that of their classmates and their community. Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling to protect the health of all students.
Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases including polio, measles, whooping cough and chickenpox. “Thanks to vaccines, most of these diseases have become rare in the United States,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “But many still exist here, and they can make children very sick, leading to many days of missed school, missed work for parents, and even hospitalization and death.”
Vaccines are safe and effective and only given to children after careful review by scientists, doctors and healthcare professionals. Vaccine side effects are almost always mild such as redness or swelling at the site of the shot, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort and risk of injury and death from the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccinated are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk of disease and can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community—including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.
School age children need vaccines. For example, kids who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, also called whooping cough), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and polio. Older children, like pre-teens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), HPV (human papillomavirus), and MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate virus) vaccines. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children 6 months and older.
Check with your child’s doctor to find out what vaccines they need this year. Parents can find out more about Indiana’s required and recommended school immunization schedule at https://bit.ly/IndianaSchoolImmunizations ###
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