Parents and kids are officially in the back-to-school mode as they make the rounds searching for new clothes, shoes and supplies. One requirement that often gets pushed to the back of the list is immunizations. They're not near as exciting as shopping for new dresses, tops and pants but much more important.
All states require that children be vaccinated against certain contagious diseases before they enroll in school, although there are exemptions for medical reasons. Some states also have exemptions in place for religious or philosophical reasons.
The point of vaccinations is to protect children, teachers and the general public from preventable contagious diseases. Schools provide the perfect environment – whether it's kindergarten or college- for the spread of illnesses. Once a disease or virus, such as measles or the flu, gets hold of the school population it can rapidly spread throughout a family and community.
Immunizations help keep the most vulnerable members of the population from becoming infected.
All 50 states have school immunization laws, although the types of vaccinations may differ from state to state. Every state has a website and/or contact number where parents can obtain the immunization list.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TSHS) has a list of the minimum 2014-2015 vaccine requirements and doses for students grades K-12 on its website at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize.
The minimum requirements are:
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A
You will also find a list of vaccine requirements for child-care facilities.
Texas colleges require that students show proof that they have received an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period prior to enrolling. There are also exemptions to those rules listed on the website http://collegevaccinerequirements.com/requirements.php.
As most of us know, vaccines aren't always 100 percent effective in disease prevention, but they help can make the symptoms less severe. Vaccines have reduced the number of infections from vaccine-preventable disease overall, by more than 90 percent.
Many parents worry about the safety and possible side effects of vaccinating their child. The American Academy of Pediatrics addresses many of these questions on its website http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/safety.html. Ingredients, Autism and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) are some of the topics covered for parents who may have concerns about these issues.
Doors open for the new school year in less than a month and parents who wait till the last minute to take their children to get immunized will most certainly face long lines and wait times. You'll be doing yourself and your child a favor by beating the rush and making your appointment now.