It’s back-to-school time, and although you might already have paper and pencils, put immunizations on your shopping list to make sure your kids are protected as they head to class.
Vaccinations protect your children from certain deadly diseases, prevent outbreaks and promote healthy classrooms.
Children are due for a series of immunizations between the ages of 4 and 6, and again at between the ages of 11 and 12, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some vaccines due at those ages also are required by the state Department of Health prior to the first day of kindergarten and sixth grade.
WHY SHOULD CHILDREN BE UP-TO-DATE ON VACCINATIONS?
Vaccinations are important for both the health of your kids and the health of our community. Unvaccinated kids are more likely to catch and spread serious illnesses, such as whooping cough and measles, which can be prevented by vaccines, according to the state Department of Health.
Making sure kids have all recommended immunizations protects them, their classmates, friends and families from preventable diseases.
Kids who aren’t fully immunized may be excluded from attending school, preschool or childcare if a disease outbreak occurs.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
By the time your child enters kindergarten, required vaccinations will include:
• MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
• DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis)
• Chicken pox
• An annual flu shot
The average 11- to 12-year-old should receive the following immunizations before school:
• Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)
• Human Papillomavirus (HPV, done in three doses)
• Meningitis (MCV4)
• An annual flu shot
• Any missing shots from the list above
HOW SOON SHOULD MY CHILD RECEIVE IMMUNIZATIONS?
Kids should get their shots as soon as they can. If they wait until just before school starts, wait times might be long.
To avoid the rush when school starts, get vaccines as soon as children reach their fourth and 11th birthdays.
WHERE SHOULD WE GO TO GET THEM?
Children can get vaccinations from their primary-care provider. If a child doesn’t have a primary-care provider, check for other locations by going towww.tpchd.org/resources/immunizations. Simply bring your child and their vaccine records with you.
WHERE CAN I FIND MY CHILD’S VACCINE RECORDS?
Contact your child’s doctor, nurse or clinic. If your child is in the Washington State Immunization Information Registry, providers can track shot history and print specific forms; call 1-800-325-5599 to find out if your child is listed.
Always keep shot records in case your child moves, gets a job or goes elsewhere for school. You’ll need it when you least expect it.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
At a doctor’s office, there may be a small administrative fee, which can be billed to insurance. A child’s vaccines are free at Mary Bridge Mobile Immunization Clinics, including the kiosk at South Hill Mall.
Check for Mobile Immunization Clinic dates, times and locations at www.tpchd.org/resources/immunizations.
GOT ANY TIPS FOR CHILDREN WHO DON’T LIKE NEEDLES?
Shot anxiety feels worse than the shot itself.
Nurses administer vaccines quickly and use distraction and relaxation techniques to calm nerves. Kids often are surprised by how little it hurts.Robin Peterson, RN, MSN, is supervisor of Pediatric Specialty Clinics, including the South Hill Mall kiosk, for MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center.