Immunize now for a healthy and safe school year

Every parent's back-to-school list should include making sure children are up-to-date with their immunizations, including the Tdap booster vaccine to protect against an ongoing whooping cough epidemic.

"Immunizations are a very safe and effective way to keep children healthy and in school," said Dr. David Fleming Director and Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County. "Whether you're a parent enrolling your child in school or a student entering college, make sure all immunizations are up-to-date."

Our state's current whooping cough epidemic is a stark reminder of the importance of immunization. There have been 560 confirmed cases of whooping cough in King County so far this year, compared to 98 cases in all of 2011. School-age children have been hit particularly hard. Children ages 10-13 have the highest rates of whooping cough in King County.

"Vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community from diseases like whooping cough," said Betsy Hubbard, Public Health's Immunization Supervisor.

Parents can find out which vaccines are required for school and child care attendance online.

There is risk in choosing not to vaccinate. In addition to the potential of becoming infected with a disease preventable by vaccine, a child can pass an infection on to those particularly vulnerable, like infants, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems. A child who is not fully immunized may be sent home from school during a disease outbreak.

Parents who choose not to immunize their children must submit an exemption certificate, signed by a health care provider verifying the provider has shared information on immunization benefits and risks.


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