Avoid Back-To-School Immunization Rush
Even though the school year recently ended, this is a good time to prepare for the next school year by arranging to get children vaccinated as soon as possible. Parents who take their children for vaccination now can avoid the back-to-school rush in late July and August, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
“Vaccinating our children against preventable diseases is one of the most important things parents and caregivers can do for their children,” says Dr. Michael Crutcher, Secretary of Health and State Health Commissioner. “In the past 50 years, school vaccination laws have helped eliminate major disease outbreaks from occurring. However, we must continue to assure children are protected as these diseases, including measles, are still a threat to children in the United States.”
From January 1 through April 25, 2008, there were 64 reports of confirmed measles cases in nine states. That is the highest number of measles cases since 2001. “So take the time to schedule your children soon for their back-to-school vaccinations,” Crutcher urged.
The demand for vaccine turns into a rush every year before school starts because of the boosters due for kindergarten-aged children. A booster dose of DTaP (to protect against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough) and a booster dose of polio vaccine and a second dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine are routinely recommended at 4 to 6 years of age and are required to attend kindergarten. A second dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is recommended for all children at 4 to 6 years of age, but is not required in Oklahoma.
Also, children transferring into Oklahoma schools from other states may need hepatitis A vaccine. This vaccine is not required in all states; however, hepatitis A vaccine is required for all Oklahoma students in grades kindergarten through twelfth.
Even though the following vaccines are not required to attend school, they are recommended for children ages 11 years and older:
• A second dose of varicella vaccine
• A Tdap booster to protect against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria, because immunity decreases with time
• Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) because the risk for this disease increases for those 15 through 24 years of age
• Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for girls to prevent two types of the virus that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer
All college students are required to have MMR and hepatitis B vaccines and first-time enrollees who will reside on campus are also required to receive the meningococcal vaccine. These requirements do not apply to students enrolling only in courses delivered via the Internet or through distance learning in which the student is not required to attend class on campus.