Get ready, parents. The end of your kids’ summer vacations is just around the corner, and the myriad of tasks looming in the background is going to become increasingly visible in the next few weeks, if it hasn’t become so already. Among backpacks, lunch boxes, pencils and new clothes, are back-to-school immunizations on your list?
As youngsters are toted around in the close quarters of school buses and actively indulge in their instincts to share toys and sticky fingers, as well as coughs and colds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends childhood immunizations to protect health and wellness.
Preparing your child’s health for school is just as important as preparing their minds; especially in children six-years-old or younger. Vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks are uncommon in the United States, but they do still happen and un-vaccinated children have the highest vulnerability for becoming ill. Most often, children are affected by the spread of measles, whooping cough (pertussis) and the flu. Unfortunately, serious cases of these diseases, sometimes involving death, are still reported in grade-school-aged children.
While the health of older children and teens is typically more stable because of childhood immunizations, they are still at risk for contracting illnesses spread in schools and outside communities. Older children and teens are more susceptible to meningococcal meningitis and HPV than other illnesses they may have been vaccinated for earlier in their youth, but childhood immunizations do wear off after a given number of years, so the CDC recommends regular vaccine boosters and annual flu shots.
So what can you do to protect your child from coming down with a preventable disease?
- Check with your child’s doctor to make sure that your child’s immunization schedule is on track with CDC-recommended time frames and doses for your child’s age.
- If boosters or new vaccinations are due, make sure to schedule an appointment before the new school year commences.
- Check with your child’s educators to ensure that all required and recommended school immunizations have been received. Schools’ vaccine requirements may differ from one to another.
- Check your own immunization records to make sure that you’re also up-to-date on your vaccinations. Adults, whose immunizations have worn off, can easily transmit diseases to children that have not yet been vaccinated or that are behind on their boosters.
- If you or your child are off schedule for recommended vaccinations, check with the CDC and talk to your doctor about the best way to get back on track.
- Watch http://bit.ly/PertussisPrevention to learn more about the signs, symptoms, possible complications and treatment of whooping cough – a highly communicable respiratory disease.
Ensuring that your children are protected with all required and recommended immunizations for school doesn’t just protect their health; it also protects the health of other children around them, your family and your community. As you rush to get your kids ready for another year of school, be sure to remember to take care of their wellness by scheduling appointments for any necessary back-to-school vaccines or boosters before their first day.
To learn more about vaccine-preventable diseases, visit http://bit.ly/PreventativeHealth.