It’s that time again, Back to School!

Is your child ready, and are they fully protected?

Sheri Burnett, RN, Plateau Pediatrics

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“Protected from what?” you might wonder. As you prepare to send your child back to school, let’s not forget one of the most important things.  Which is, to make sure your child is fully protected against all vaccine preventable diseases. After all, isn’t the health and well-being of your child the most important thing?

The most effective way to prevent the spread of disease and keep your child and their peers healthy, is to have them vaccinated! There are certain vaccines required prior to the start of preschool, kindergarten, seventh grade, and college. Students entering these grades, or who are entering school for the first time, will be required to show proof of immunization prior to school entry. Students who are not up-to-date on the required vaccines for their age, may not be allowed to attend school. Missed school days can lead to your child getting behind in their work and may cause them to struggle in getting caught up with their peers. Back-to-School time is hard enough as it is.  Don’t let your child get left behind!

To see if your child is up to date on vaccines required for school entry, click here.

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While most vaccines are required for school entry, there are a couple which aren’t required. But, why wouldn’t you want your child fully protected? Who wants to pick and choose what diseases their child is protected against and which ones they aren’t? After all, isn’t the goal to keep your child as safe and healthy as possible? Don’t let your child go unprotected, make sure to discuss the following vaccines with your healthcare provider:

Influenza Vaccine: The flu virus is one of the most common illnesses, affecting both children and adults, and is one of the leading causes of missed school each year. While the flu may seem no worse than a common cold for some, it can be deadly for others. Why take this risk when there is a vaccine to prevent this serious, potentially life-threatening illness? The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone ages 6 months and older. To ensure full protection, get your child vaccinated as early as possible, and preferably, prior to the start of the flu season. For more information, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

HPV Vaccine: If you thought you could protect your child from cancer, wouldn’t you? Guess what, you can! Human Papilloma Virus, known as HPV, is a common virus that affects teens and adults. Did you know that 80% of people will get an HPV infection in their lifetime? HPV in its most serious form, causes cancer. HPV vaccination is safe and can provide long-lasting protection against cancers caused by HPV. It is routinely given between the ages of 11 and 12.  https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/questions-answers.html#doses

Meningococcal Vaccine: Meningococcal infections are often severe, and can even be life-threatening. These infections affect the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal conjugate vaccines are routinely given between the ages of 11 and 12, with a booster dose given at age 16. Meningococcal conjugate vaccination is a requirement for students entering college. Teens and young adults ages 16-23 may also be vaccinated with a meningococcal B vaccine. While rare in occurrence, meningococcal B is the most common form of meningococcal disease outbreak among college students.  This is often due to close living quarters, such as college dormitories and military barracks. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/public/index.html

We know that vaccines save lives by preventing the spread of disease. Through routine vaccination, we have been able to completely eliminate certain diseases such as smallpox.  We have also been able to drastically reduce the occurrence of other serious, potentially life-threatening diseases, such as polio, pertussis, meningitis, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, etc.

As you prepare to send your child back to school, make sure they are up to date on all routinely recommended vaccines for their age. Just as you would want your child to have the best education possible, you also want them fully protected from as many diseases as possible. The best way to ensure this, is through vaccination. Remember, the health and safety of your child is of utmost importance. So, don’t wait, contact your healthcare provider today to see if your child is up-to-date on their vaccines and to answer any questions that you may have.  

Tennessee Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics