Staying up to date with vaccinations is crucial in preventing children and their classmates from getting sick.
August brings the end of summer vacation for children, and back-to-school checklists for parents. It’s also National Immunization Awareness Month, and the CDC is encouraging parents to ensure their children have the recommended vaccines for the upcoming school year.
Vaccinations are important in protecting the longterm health of children, their classmates, family, and the people in their community. Coming out of a severe flu season, vaccinations are more important than ever for children.
The 2017-2018 flu season had record-breaking rates in flu-like illness and hospitalization, with 176 flu-related deaths among children until June 30, the most in a single flu season, according to the CDC. The agency's statement suggests that some of these deaths may have been preventable, as approximately 80% of fatal cases were in children who had not received a vaccination.
Several other diseases can be prevented with vaccination, including measles, and whooping cough. The CDC recorded 667 cases of measles in 2014, the most cases in 1 year since the United States officially documented the elimination of measles in 2000. In the first half of 2018, there have been 93 cases of measles reported from 19 different states, according to the CDC. Whooping cough can occur when vaccinations wear off in middle school and high school students. This resulted in a high of 48,277 in 2012, and then 17,972 cases in 2016, according to the statement.
From birth to age 6, children should receive routine vaccinations to protect them from serious, and even deadly, diseases. The CDC recommends using their Childhood Immunization Schedule as a resource to ensure a child is up to date with their vaccinations. As millions of children are affected by the flu each year, with the risk of hospitalization or death, children older than 6 months should also receive an annual flu vaccine. Children with certain chronic health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and brain or nervous system disorders, have an especially high risk of flu-related complications, according to the CDC.
Children who receive the flu vaccine for the first time between 6 months to 8 years old, or children who have previously only received 1 dose, should receive 2 doses of the flu vaccine at least 28 days apart. After the initial two doses, just 1 dose per year is needed, according to the CDC.
Preteens and teens should receive an annual flu vaccine, as well as the HPV vaccine, the TDaP shot to prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and the meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis, bacteremia, and septicemia. The CDC suggests scheduling an appointment as soon as possible if your teen hasn’t received one of these vaccines yet.
Certain states may also have vaccination requirements that must be fulfilled before the first day of school. Officials with the CDC suggest being aware of these requirements, and keeping children up to date on their vaccinations.
If a child is behind schedule on their vaccines, their health care provider can use the CDC recommended catch-up-immunization schedule to get them up to date, and ready for a new school year, according to the statement. In families that do not have health insurance, or their insurance doesn’t cover all the vaccines needed, the CDC recommends checking eligibiliy to receive help from Vaccines for Children (VFC).
Does Your Back-to-School Checklist Include Vaccination? [CDC Features] The CDC’s Website. July 24, 2018. www.cdc.gov/features/catchupimmunizations/index.html. Accessed August 6, 2018.