As summer is quickly coming to a close for kids, it's that time of year again to think about Back-To-School. In addition to thinking about school supplies and school clothes, something else to ask yourself is this, "Is my child up to date on immunizations?"
There are certain immunizations that are required to attend school in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the Ohio Department of Health and Pennsylvania Department of Health have great links to let you know which immunizations are required to attend school. The full immunization schedule can be found at the site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But, in general, the immunizations that my patients and their parents are asking about are the following Back-To-School Immunizations:
- Before Kindergarten: MMR, Chicken Pox, Polio, Tetanus
- Before 7th Grade: Tetanus Booster, First Meningitis Shot
- Before 12th Grade: Second Meningitis Shot
The vaccine against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is not required to attend school (yet), but I still try to have a discussion with parents about the benefits of this vaccine. And, of course, I do recommend the Flu Shot yearly.
I also get questions about vaccine exemptions. In the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania (and other states), a child who attends public school can be exempted from taking vaccines in school for medical, religious, and philosophical reasons as long as the parent/guardian provides the school with a written statement along with a waiver form.
This exemption also comes with one caveat: If this school has an outbreak, the school may prevent the child from attending, to protect the health of all students and the faculty.
Of course, I advocate for vaccination, because we have seen the complications of not vaccinating. Remember the 2014 mumps outbreak at Ohio State University? This affected almost 500 people. How about the 2014 measles outbreak at Disneyland in California? I believe these came about because the people affected, for whatever reason, were unvaccinated.
Bottom Line: Vaccines work. Get your children vaccinated. Stay up to date on your (adult) vaccinations. And, finally, visit your Family Doctor to see which vaccines are appropriate for you and your child.