LiveSmart: Back to School — Are Your Kids Vaccinated?
[This piece was written by Diane Tenenbaum, MD, of St. Peter’s Children’s Health Center.]
With most schools back in session next week, this is your final chance to make sure the students in your life are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
New York State law requires all students entering school grades kindergarten through 12 to be vaccinated, or to have a valid waiver, for the following:
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Booster (DTap for kindergartners, TdaP when the child turns 10)
- Polio (IPV or OPV)
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis B
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends children ages 11-12 get the HPV vaccine to protect against the human papillomavirus, which is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. Parents should request the vaccine, alongside their child’s regular back to school immunizations. And for any young adult over the age of 17, a second meningitis vaccine is a must, especially if they are heading off to college or a U.S. basic military training center.
Parents should discuss vaccine updates with their child’s pediatrician at every annual well child visit, as the recommendations from the AAP change annually.
It is important to remember:
- Vaccines are safer and more effective today than ever before. One reason is the naturally occurring additives that help sterilize vaccine fluids.
- While children today are getting more vaccinations than in the past, the overall amount of immunologic agents in these vaccines is smaller. Two shots given to children in 1980 had more immunologic agents than the antigens in the entire childhood vaccination series given today.
- Delaying vaccinations — or spreading them out over time — increases the risk of exposing your child to a serious and possibly life-altering illness.
- Vaccines don’t weaken the immune system; they boost it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an analysis of the childhood immunization schedule that revealed following the recommended vaccination timeframe will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.
Parents should heed the advice of their pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics. More information about the need to keep infants on schedule for routine vaccinations is at www.aap.org/immunization.
St. Peter’s Children’s Health Center, 1092 Madison Avenue, Albany, offers a complete range of services for children from newborns to age 18. Services include well-child routine care, sick child exams, school and camp physicals, sports physicals, immunizations, health maintenance and education, and access to other hospital services and referrals to specialists. Call 518-525-2445 for more information or an appointment.