By Marilyn DeSouza
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. That’s why it’s a perfect time to make sure kids are up to date with necessary vaccinations before returning to school.
To get kids off to the right start, you need to equip them with everything they will need for a successful and healthful school year. One of the most important things related to that parents should do for their children is to make sure they get all the recommended vaccines.
Children who are not vaccinated are at increased risk for communicable diseases. This means that In addition to getting sick themselves, they can spread these diseases to others in their families, classrooms, communities as well as babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and other people with weakened immune systems.
CDC Recommended Vaccines for Children, Pre-teens and Teens
Children 4 – 6 Years of Age
- DTaP (diphtheia, tetanus, and pertussis)
- Chicken Pox
- MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
- Flu vaccine is yearly for all children 6 months and older.
Starting at Ages 11 – 12 and for – preteens and teens
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheia, and pertussis)
- MenACWY (meningoccal conjugate vaccine)
- HPV (human papilloma virus)
Vaccinations are Not Just for Kids
Every adult should get the Tap vaccine once if they did not receive it as a teenager, in order to protect themselves against pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus and diphtheria; and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster every 10 years.
Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all young adults, especially first year students who will be living in a dormitory, or a residence with other young adults.
Much more key information about flu and pneumonia vaccination in adults can be found on our website by clicking here.
Did you know that?
- Vaccines contain the same antigens (see our website glossary), or parts of antigens, that cause diseases. For example, measles vaccine contains measles virus. However, the antigens in vaccines are either killed, or weakened to the point that they dont cause disease. At the same time, they are strong enough to make the immune system produce antibodies (see the glossary again) that lead to immunity (protection against the specific disease). In other words, a vaccine is a safer substitute for a childs first exposure to a disease. The child gets protection without having to get sick. Through vaccination, children can develop immunity without suffering from the actual diseases that vaccines prevent, which can sometimes be quite serious.
- Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies that they got from their mothers during pregnancy. However, this immunity goes away during the first year of life.
- If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease.
- Before vaccines were available, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are protected by vaccines, we dont see these diseases nearly as often.
- Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of the community, especially people in the community who cannot be immunized, such as: children who are too young to be vaccinated, children who cant receive certain vaccines for medical reasons, and people of any age who have weakened immune systems.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very costly, resulting in doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and in some cases, even premature deaths.
- Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.
Remember the Health Power motto or tagline: Knowledge + Action = Power! ®