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September 6, 2013

Vaccines Protect School Children and Those Around Them

Your back to school check list should also include making sure school children are up-to-date on their vaccines.

Your back to school check list should also include making sure school children are up-to-date on their vaccines.

“Vaccines not only protect your child from an increased risk of disease but also protect those around them like classmates, babies who are too young to be vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. Houlihan, family physician, ThedaCare Physicians-New London. “Vaccines are the safest and most cost effective way of preventing the spread of disease.”

Children in Wisconsin are required to be vaccinated against diseases like measles and whooping cough before they can enter school. Vaccination requirements apply to kindergarten through high school and vary by grade. Contact a health care provider or local health department for specifics on vaccinations.

“Although vaccines protect children, outbreaks still happen, like the growing number of pertussis cases” said Rescha Bloedow, NP, ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca. “And many of those go unreported. Middle and high school students are at risk as protection from childhood vaccines fade.”

Children age 4 to 6 are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and polio. Older children – like pre-teens and teens – need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MCV (meningococcal conjugate virus) and HPV. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for all children 6 months and older.

The State of Wisconsin requires a Student Immunization Record card be completed by the parent and returned to the school before the child’s school entrance. The student must have a minimum of the following:

Grades Kindergarten through 5th: 4 DTaP, 4 polio, 3 Hepatitis, 2 MMR and 2 Varicella.

Grades 6 through 12: 4 DTaP, 1 Tdap, 4 polio, 3 Hepatitia, 2 MMR and 2 Varicella.

Children Birth-6 Years

During the early years of life, children are recommended to get vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be serious, even life-threatening. Flu vaccines are recommended for kids in pre-school and elementary. It is also recommended family members and caregivers receive the flu vaccine.

Children and Teens 7-18 Years

Older children need to receive a yearly flu vaccination, too. The flu can be serious, even for healthy young people. As kids get older, they are more at risk for catching certain diseases. Specific vaccines, like HPV, which helps protect against certain cancers, are recommended to be given during the preteen (11-12) years. For other diseases, like whooping cough, the protection from vaccine doses received in childhood wears off over time. That's why 11- and 12-year-olds are also recommended to get the booster shot called Tdap. Teens—and adults, too—who have not gotten Tdap should get this booster as soon as possible. Tdap is a version of the DTaP vaccine given to infants and young children.