Doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center want to remind parents about the importance of immunizing their children when preparing to send their children back to school.
Robert W. Frenck, Jr., MD, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases and vaccine researcher at Cincinnati Children's, says vaccines are critical to ensuring that a child stays healthy throughout the school year. According to Dr. Frenck, the single most important thing a parent can do to protect their child's health is to make sure the child is immunized.
Just because many deadly diseases such as polio are no longer common, people should not stop getting vaccinated, he says. Continuing to protect children with vaccines is crucial, because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases have occurred both in the US and overseas when children are not immunized. A recent example is the outbreak of measles that California health authorities determined started at Disneyland. Over 150 people became ill and luckily there were no deaths.
"If a child's immunizations aren't up to date, it is possible to catch them up," he explains. "A parent just needs to talk to their child's pediatrician to ask them how to do that."
Dr. Frenck along with The Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics would like to highlight some important vaccination information.
Babies in the first 6 months of life, despite being vaccinated still are at risk of contracting pertussis (whooping cough). The Academy of Pediatrics is a proponent of "cocooning." This means that everyone around the baby - parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and caregivers - is immunized. Immunized kids and adults are less likely to spread pertussis to the baby, especially important in the early months when babies are not yet fully protected.
Flu vaccine for everyone older than 6 months
Not only does flu vaccine protect your child, immunizing children can significantly reduce flu in adults because the kids are the ones who bring it home. The vaccine is available by nasal mist (fine for most healthy kids over 2 years of age) or injection.
Children over the age of 4
For children 4-6 years of age, they should get a DTaP, MMR and Varicella shots. At about 11 years of age they should receive Tdap, MCV4 (meningococcal) and HPV (papilloma virus) vaccines.
HPV for girls and boys
Both girls and boys should receive HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine starting at age 11 or 12. HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer in girls and rectal and penile and other cancers in boys. It is part of an "adolescent platform" of vaccines that the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend. Other vaccines in the trio are Tdap, to protect against tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, and MCV4, to guard against a type of bacterial meningitis.