The school year is coming up, and you know what that means—disease central. Elementary schools are especially volatile with potential diseases. Everything in schools—from water fountains to lunch tables to classroom markers—can be a conductor of potentially harmful viruses and diseases. Schools are particularly susceptible to large, widespread outbreaks of illnesses, because once one student has it, it’s not hard for them to spread it to their whole class (and eventually the whole school).
This wildfire effect can become especially dangerous when it comes to harsher sicknesses, like measles and the flu. However, thanks to modern medicine, we now have vaccinations that keep not only our children safe, but all of the children they interact with on a daily basis. Vaccinations are common sense. Keep your child (and other parents’ children) safe by keeping up-to-date on the most common vaccinations.
Before school starts…
Before this upcoming school year starts, you should double-check your state’s vaccination requirements. Some states may require children to get certain vaccines before school starts, while others administer vaccinations through the school’s nurse system at the beginning of the school year. If you’re not quite sure what system your state follows, check with your doctor, your child’s school, or your state or local health department.
The age breakdown
Different vaccines are recommended at different ages. Many, but not all, vaccines are administered to infants and young children. These vaccinations can make a world of difference in the long-term health of your children. For more information on what vaccinations to get at what ages, see this page by the CDC that details an immunization schedule for infants and children (up through 6 years old). The four main immunizations your young child should get before entering elementary school are the DTaP, MMR, IPV, and Varicella shots.
Don’t forget teens!
Most people think of vaccines as something for infants, toddlers, and elementary school-aged kids. But don’t forget, teenagers and preteens need to be vaccinated as well! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful chart to help map out some common immunizations for children ages 7-18. For more detailed information on recommended vaccinations for children ages 11-12, see this page. For more information on vaccines for teens ages 13-18, see this page.
So, what do I need before school starts?
Because every parent is responsible for their own child’s vaccinations, and because every parent operates on a slightly different timetable, you may have already taken care of some of these common vaccinations mentioned above. But, if you haven’t gotten the required immunizations for your child’s age group before the school year starts, be sure to get those taken care of. Refer back to the CDC age immunization charts if you need a refresher on what vaccines your child needs for his or her age group.
If you feel a little lost or overwhelmed by all of this information, just visit your primary health care provider. They will have records of all the immunizations your child has gotten, and they will know which ones he or she needs for the coming school year.
Get your vaccines! They are safe and easy to get, and they are necessary to ensure the health and wellbeing of your child and other parent’s children.
What advice do you have for parents who might be opting out of vaccines for their children? Tell us about it in the comments section below.