As back-to-school season approaches, along with those new school supplies, shoes and haircuts, make sure your child has his or her necessary immunizations. School-age children must receive certain vaccines before admission to school — but more importantly, staying up-to-date on necessary immunizations is a matter of good preventive health.
If your child has had an annual doctor’s visit in the last year, chances are they’re current on any immunizations required for school admission. Your doctor can provide you a copy of your child’s immunization record for your school’s files.
From birth to age 6, children receive regular vaccinations at each pediatrician’s visit. After age 6, it’s still important to see the pediatrician regularly for a well-child visit. Additional vaccinations are given at specific intervals between ages 7 and 18, including catch-up immunizations for children who may have missed a routine immunization at an earlier age, and vaccinations for children who are at an increased risk for certain diseases or conditions.
And, even if your child has had the needed immunizations, this time of year is fitting for a well-child visit, if you haven’t already scheduled one for the year. An annual well-visit provides an opportunity for you and your pediatrician to discuss your child’s growth, nutrition, sleep, safety, illnesses that are circulating, developmental milestones, as well as any questions you may have.
Updated Immunization, or Vaccination, Guidelines
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control updated the list of recommended childhood vaccinations. The guidelines, approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, went into effect July 1, 2010, and include the following changes:
• Yearly influenza vaccination for everyone over 6 months of age. (The fall 2010 influenza vaccine will contain the H1N1 antigen.)
• The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which guards against genital warts, is now offered to boys. Previously recommended only for girls, the vaccine is offered in a three-dose series to males ages 9 through 18.
• The addition of a booster for the bacterial meningitis vaccine (MCV4), at age 11 or 12, or age 13 through 18 if not previously vaccinated. Children at high risk — i.e., those with weakened immune systems or other health conditions — should be vaccinated earlier, between ages 2 and 10.
The Importance of Vaccinations
Recent research indicates that resurgences of certain illnesses are often due to parents’ reluctance to vaccinate their children. A 2010 study by the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research of 90,000 children enrolled in a Colorado health plan found that children were nine times as likely to get chickenpox when their parents decided not to have them vaccinated.
Unsure if your child is up-to-date or needs a vaccine that is recommended, but not required? Schedule a well-child visit with your pediatrician or family physician for a check-up and discussion of your child’s individual needs.
Provided by Navarro Regional Hospital
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention — www.cdc.gov
American Academy of Pediatrics — www.aap.org
American Academy of Family Physicians — www.familydoctor.org
Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.