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August 25, 2015
Your Back-to-School Immunization Checklist

Backpack, check. Notebooks and pencils, check. Immunizations?

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. That means there is no better time to make sure your children have all the required immunizations they need by the time school starts. We break it down for you by age, which makes providing your kids with the protection they need as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Birth to Age 6

Day care centers and schools can be a feeding ground for diseases and illnesses due to the large quantity of children and germs that they bring from all kinds of environments. Before children turn 2 years old, they have likely already been vaccinated to protect them from 14 serious diseases. Some of these diseases include measles and whooping cough.

By the time a child is 6 years old, he or she should have the following vaccinations:

Name of Vaccine What It Protects Your Child Against
Hep B Hepatitis B
RV Rotavirus
DTaP Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough
Hib Haemophilus influenzae type b
PCV13 Pneumoccal disease
IPV Polio
Flu Influenza (and every year after 6 months old)
MMR Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
Varicella Chickenpox
Hep A Hepatitis A

Many young families may think of many of these diseases as old-world problems, but in many other countries, they are still very prevalent, and even deadly.

“Vaccines don’t just protect your child,” according to the National Public Health Information Coalition. “Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, health care professionals, and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community – especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated themselves.”

Pre-teens, Teens and College Students

Children ages 7 through 18 are another age group that needs to be protected. Many of the vaccinations required for this age group are boosters to prevent the originals from wearing off over time. Others, like the HPV vaccine, should be given to boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12 to prevent certain cancers, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

Check with your doctor to see if your preteen or teen is on schedule with the following vaccinations:

Name of Vaccine What It Protects Your Child Against
HPV Human Papilloma Virus/Cancer Prevention
Flu Influenza (should get every year)
Tdap Whooping Cough booster
Meningococcal Meningococcal disease

 

The quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine is another vaccine that should be given to preteens around age 11 or 12 to prevent meningitis or septicemia. A booster shot should then be given to them at age 16.

Adults

Remember, kids aren’t the only ones who need their immunizations. Adults and children should get their flu vaccines every year. Pregnant women should also get this shot to protect themselves and their unborn baby from contracting this common, but sometimes deadly, illness. Elders should also talk about Zoster, the Shingles vaccine, with their doctor.

Before putting away the sunblock and flip flops, see the Massachusetts government-issued vaccination requirements for the 2015-2016 school year by clicking here to make sure your family is protected and prepared.

Dr. Cynthia Wilson-Grillo is a pediatrician with Harrington Physician Services. She works with Dr. Diana Rabkina at our newly-renovated suite in the Medical Arts Building of our 100 South Street, Southbridge campus. For an appointment, call 508-765-7860.