Urge Parents to Have Kids Vaccinated

Pharmacy Times, August 2021, Volume 87, Issue 8

CDC publishes a schedule of recommended immunizations, how many doses are required, and at what age they should be administered.

Babies are born with immune systems that can fight off most germs, but there are some serious diseases that they cannot fend off.

These diseases once harmed or killed infants, children, and adults. Fortunately, vaccines can provide immunity from these diseases without having to get sick. Certain vaccines have even eradicated some diseases.

Childhood vaccinations also help others stay healthy, thanks to herd immunity or community immunity. This is particularly important for individuals who cannot get certain vaccines because of their age, allergies, or being immunocompromised.

The CDC publishes a vaccine schedule that includes recommended vaccines, how many doses are required, and at what age they should be administered.1

INFANTS AND TODDLERS: AGED BIRTH THROUGH 2 YEARS

Vaccines contribute to a healthy start in infants and toddlers. Some of these vaccines may require more than 1 dose to boost and build immunity and include the following2:

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine: given at aged 12 to 15 months
  • DTP vaccine: given at aged 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 to 18 months
  • Flu vaccine: recommended every year by the end of October starting at aged 6 months
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine: given at aged 2 months, 4 months, 6 months (if needed, depending on the brand), and 12 to 15 months
  • Hepatitis A vaccine: given at aged 12 to 23 months and again 6 months after the first dose
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: given shortly after birth, at aged 1 to 2 months, and at 6 to 18 months
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine: given at aged 12 to 15 months; infants aged 6 to 11 months should receive 1 dose before traveling abroad
  • Pneumococcal vaccine: given at aged 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months
  • Polio (IPV) vaccine: given at aged 2 months, 4 months, and 6 to 18 months
  • Rotavirus vaccine: given aged 2 months, 4 months, and perhaps 6 months, depending on the brand

PRESCHOOL AND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: AGED 3 THROUGH 10 YEARS

Children need additional doses of some vaccines at this age. A certificate of childhood immunizations may be required for school enrollment. These vaccines include the following2:

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine: given at aged 4 to 6 years
  • DTaP vaccine: given at aged 4 to 6 years
  • Flu vaccine: recommended every year by the end of October
  • IPV vaccine: given at aged 4 to 6 years
  • MMR vaccine: given at aged 4 to 6 years

PRETEENS AND TEENS: AGED 11 THROUGH 18 YEARS

Adolescents need additional vaccines because some childhood vaccines lose their protection over time. Adolescents also need protection from additional diseases before the risk of exposure increases. These vaccines include the following2:

  • If a child leaves the country, check to see if he or she needs additional vaccinations.
  • Flu vaccine: recommended every year by the end of October
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine: given at aged 11 to 12 years and again 6 to 12 months after the first dose
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine: given at aged 11 to 12 years and again at aged 16 years
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine: may be given at aged 16 to 23 years
  • DTP vaccine: given at aged 11 to 12 years

MANDATING VACCINES

Vaccines are mandated at the state level. Each state can decide which vaccines to mandate and when. However, to be mandated at the state level, vaccines must be fully approved by the FDA. Most states mandate vaccines for children to allow them to attend charter, private, and public schools as well as day care programs.3

If a child has a job, his or her employer can require a COVID-19 vaccination, even though these vaccines have only been approved for emergency use by the FDA. Employers can do this because attendance is not compulsory. They have the right to require vaccinations, regardless of whether they are fully approved, and workers have the right to refuse and find another job.4

EXEMPTIONS TO MANDATED VACCINES

Just as mandated vaccines are handled at the state level, so are the exemptions. All states and the District of Columbia allow a medical exemption to vaccination. This occurs when a child has a medical condition that prevents him or her from receiving a vaccine. All but 3 states offer nonmedical exemptions for philosophical or religious reasons. Philosophical reasons include objections to vaccines based on moral, personal, or other beliefs.5

An exemption in school vaccination assessment reports could mean several things, such as the parent refused all vaccines for the child, the parent refused a dose of vaccine for the child, or the parent refused a specific vaccine series for the child.5

States vary in their requirements to apply for exemption. Some require annual reenrollment for exemption, and others require a certification of completion of an online educational model. These requirements are changing. Some states are adding morevaccinations to the required list, and some are removing nonmedical exemptions. Advise parents to contact the local school board or state department of health for more information.

PREPARE FOR A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE

Immunizations can be stressful for both the child and the parent. It is important for parents to stay calm because children are sensitive to the emotions of their caregivers. Parents should answer questions honestly and use terms that may lessen anxiety. During the appointment, they can use varying techniques to keep children calm and distracted.

Some parents premedicate their child with acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lessen the aftereffects of an immunization. Advise parents to check with pediatricians performing the immunization to determine whether they feel this is helpful and to get an appropriate dose.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathleen Kenny, PharmD, RPh, has more than 25 years of experience as a community pharmacist and is a freelance clinical medical writer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

REFERENCES

1. Childhood vaccines. MedlinePlus. Updated July 15, 2021. Accessed July 22, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/childhoodvaccines.html

2. Growing up with vaccines: what should parents know? CDC. Updated July 2018. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/growing/images/global/CDCGrowing-Up-with-Vaccines.pdf

3. State vaccination requirements. CDC. Updated November 15, 2016. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/laws/statereqs.html

4. What you should know about COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO laws. US Equal Employment Commission. Updated June 28, 2021. Accessed July 22, 2021. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

5. What is an exemption and what does it mean? CDC. Updated October 12, 2017. Accessed July 11, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/coverage/schoolvaxview/requirements/exemption.html