Start of school good time to update vaccines

Robin Peterson

For The Courier-Herald

It’s back-to-school time, and although you might already have paper and pencils, put immunizations on your shopping list to make sure your kids are protected as they head to class.

Children are due for a series of immunizations between the ages of 4 and 6, and again between the ages of 11 and 12, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some vaccines due at these ages are also required by the Washington State Department of Health prior to the first day of kindergarten and sixth grade.

Vaccines due at ages 4 to 6 and required for entrance to kindergarten include MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), chicken pox, polio, and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis). Vaccines due at ages 11 and 12 and required to enter sixth grade are Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) and either parent report of chicken pox disease, or one dose of a two-dose series of the vaccine to protect against chicken pox. Other vaccines due at this age if they have not had them before are meningitis (MCV4) hepatitis A (two-dose series over the age of 6 months) and human papillomavirus (HPV, three-dose series over the age of 6 months.)

Parents need to make sure their children are current with immunizations. Ideally, we would like to see parents bring their children in for vaccines shortly after their 4th and 11th birthdays.

If all vaccines on the CDC schedule are given right after the 4th and 11th birthdays, students will have everything they need to enter school without having to run last minute for vaccinations.

People who wait to get vaccines until a week or two before school starts will have a hard time getting a doctor’s appointment, and likely will experience several hour waiting periods at community vaccine clinics.

Not having a regular family doctor, medical insurance or the ability to pay for vaccines are not barriers to getting children’s immunizations. Vaccines on the CDC immunization schedule and required for school attendance are free for all children through age 18 (through age 19 for Hepatitis B vaccine) in the state of Washington. Some clinics may charge a small administration fee per vaccine, but these administration fees may be reduced or waived on a case-by-case basis.

The next school year is rapidly approaching. Make sure your kids have the right immunizations or make a plan to get them soon.

Robin Peterson, registered nurse, is the coordinator for MultiCare Mobile Health Services-Puyallup.

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