August is National Immunization Month

by Patty Hardy

August is National Immunization Month

August is already flying by, which means that in a couple of weeks schools will throw open their doors to begin their yearly eight-month endeavor of educating young minds. For some parents, this means it's time to double-check your child's medical record to make sure he or she is up-to-date on immunizations. It's an infectious world out there.

"Immunizations are a vital part of public health and help make sure our students are free from preventable communicable diseases," Jorea Marple, the West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools, told the Beckley. "We must take every step we can to keep our children as safe and healthy as possible, and immunizations are essential. A healthy child is one who is in school and can learn."

Elementary School

Although they may do everything in their power to resist them, kids entering first grade need to get a couple booster shots before donning their new shiny backpack. These include the Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, IPV for pollio protection, MMR (to prevent measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella, which prevents chicken pox.

The chicken pox vaccine is not required, but it's strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The condition is highly contagious and ranges in severity. It comes in two doses - one delivered between 12 and 15 months and the second between the ages of 4 and 6.

Although making your kid get a shot may seem like a hassle, immunity can prevent an infectious disease from complicating baby development

Middle School

Students entering sixth or seventh grade are required by law in the United States to receive the Tdap booster, as well as the MCV4 or meningococcal vaccine.

Meningoccoccal disease is the leading cause of meningitis, a serious infection that causes the brain and spinal cord to swell, according to the CDC. Although an infection can be treated with antibiotics, some affected individuals don't survive, which is why receiving the vaccination is so crucial. At age 16, teenagers must receive a booster.

In addition, parents of 11- and 12-year-olds can choose to have their child receive the HPV vaccine, which comes in a series of three doses over the course of six months and protects against four strains of a virus that increases the risk for genital herpes and some cancers. Although middle-schoolers may not be sexually active, the vaccine is most effective if administered around the start of puberty.

High School

Once your son or daughter enters high school, the painful process of vaccines is almost over with. Besides a booster shot of MCV4 at the age of 16, if a teenager is up-to-date with his or her immunizations, no new ones are needed. However, healthcare professionals recommend a flu shot every year.

A Couple Things to Keep in Mind

Parents should be aware of any immunizations that their child doesn't receive as a baby. For instance, the Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended during the first year of life. Since the disease is highly contagious and can be spread through airborne saliva droplets, if an infant doesn't receive it early on, it's important to make up for it before starting school.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can always talk to your child's pediatrician to find out more information about immunizations or to see what vaccines your kiddo has received.

What are your thoughts on immunization? Did you have your child receive any optional vaccinations? What motivated your decision? Leave your answers in the comments section!