Are immunizations on your employees’ back-to-school checklists? Maybe they should be! It’s no coincidence that August’s National Immunization Awareness Month coincides with back-to-school season. With the fall semester looming large, parents nationwide are scrambling to complete their checklists.
- Load kids in car and hope to return with: reasonably priced, non-cringe-inducing clothing; educational supplies that don’t require a Ph.D. in computer science to operate; and at least a small shred of your sanity.
- Create an Excel spreadsheet of your offspring’s extracurricular activities as well as associated carpool schedules, and start counting the days until said youngsters are licensed drivers.
One item that parents often overlook is no laughing matter:
- Has your child been properly vaccinated?
Immunizations are children’s and teens’ best defense against a variety of potentially deadly diseases. Specifically, there currently are 10 vaccines that are safely administered to prevent youngsters from contracting the following diseases:
- Hepatitis A;
- Hepatitis B;
- Hib disease (haemophilus influenza type B);
- Influenza (flu);
- Pertussis (whooping cough);
- Pneumococcal disease;
- Rubella (German measles);
- Tetanus (lockjaw);
- Varicella (chickenpox).
According to the most recent polling by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 88.9 percent of American parents are vaccinating their children in accordance with the CDC’s recommended schedule. Although this is an admirable participation rate, 100 percent would be ideal, because – when parents fail to follow the recommended immunization schedule – potentially devastating-disease outbreaks can occur.
For example, in 2000, it was declared that measles no longer exist in the United States. Since that time, an increase in unvaccinated children has resulted in a measles resurgence. In fact, 2014 brought with it 23 measles outbreaks – affecting some 700 people – across 27 states.
There has been a similar resurgence of pertussis (whopping cough) in recent years. For instance, more than 28,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the United States last year, and – from 2000 to 2014 – nearly 280 whooping-cough deaths occurred nationwide.
Recommended Immunization Schedule
There’s no question that vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. There’s also no question that schools are among the most vulnerable venues when it comes to transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases. When this happens, not only can the consequences be potentially dire for youngsters, but entire communities can be impacted as well.
To ward off these unwanted and unnecessary outcomes, parents are urged to follow the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule. (For parents who want to learn more, visit the CDC’s vaccine website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/.)
The first six years:
- Hepatitis B ― first dose at birth; second dose at one-month old to two-months old; third dose between six-months old to 18-months old;
- Rotavirus ― first dose at two-months old; second dose at four-months old; third dose at six-months old;
- Hib (protects against haemophilus influenzae type b) ― first dose at two-months old; second dose at four-months old; third dose at six-months old; fourth dose at between 12-months old and 15-months old;
- DTaP (protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) ― first dose at two-months old; second dose at four-months old; third dose at six-months old; fourth dose at 15-months old to 18-months old; and fifth dose at four-years old to six-years old;
- Polio ― first dose at two-months old; second dose at four-months old; third dose at six-months old to 18-months old; and booster at four- to six-years old;
- Pneumococcal ― first dose at two-months old; second dose at four-months old; third dose at six-months old; fourth dose at 12-months old to 15-months old;
- MMR (protects against measles, mumps, and rubella) ― first dose at 12-months old to 15-months old; second dose at four-years old to six-years old;
- Varicella ― first dose at 12-months old to 15-months old; second dose at four-years old to six-years old;
- Influenza ― one dose annually from six-months old to six-years old;
- Hepatitis A ― two doses, administered six-months apart, between the ages of 12-months and 23 months.
From ages 11 to 18:
- MCV4 ― Designed to protect against most types of meningococcal disease, MCV4 should be administered to tweens at their 11-year-old or 12-year-old checkups. A booster shot also is recommended at age 16.
- Tdap ― Licensed for use in 2005, Tdap is the first vaccine for adolescents and adults that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. The Tdap vaccine is given to children to guard against these same three diseases, but immunity can fade over time, and thus one “booster” dose of Tdap is recommended for adolescents ages 11 through 12.
- HPV ― To protect against the human papillomavirus, it’s recommended that girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12 receive three doses of the HPV vaccine.