LiveSmart: Kids Heading Back to School? Do the Right Thing – Vaccinate!
[This piece was written by Diane Tenenbaum, MD, of St. Peter’s Children’s Health Center.]
With kids heading back to school in just a few short weeks, there is no better time to think about the importance of vaccination.
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 (Tdap)
- Polio (IPV or OPV)
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis B
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
The American Academy of Pediatrics 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 he or she is 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.
An analysis of the childhood immunization schedule in the April 2014 issue of Pediatrics reported that following the recommended schedule will prevent 42,000 early deaths and 20 million cases of disease among children born in 2009.
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.