Back to school: Are your child’s vaccinations current?

Every year, there are kindergarten and seventh-grade parents ready to send their kids off for the first day of school who have to turn around and head to the doctor’s office. Either they need proof of vaccination or they are missing a required vaccination or the exemption form to opt out of vaccines (which is never a good idea unless there’s a medical reason. At the University of Texas, we’ve had cases of mumps in recent year because of the lack of vaccinations.).

 

LVN Tanya Roland vaccinates Fatima Wolfe, the 1-year-old daughter of Jordan Wolfe, at the Shots for Tots vaccination clinic at St. John’s Community Center. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Don’t get caught missing a vaccine or without your paperwork. Find your children’s shot records and make sure they are in compliance with the 2018-2019 school vaccination schedule:

Kindergarten-Sixth Grade

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: four or five doses depending on which version your kid got.

Polio: four or three doses

Measles, Mumps and Rubella: two doses

Hepatitis B: three doses

Varicella: two doses

Hepatitus A: two doses

Seventh graders

All of the above, plus

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: three doses of the primary series plus a booster within the last five years

Meningococcal: one dose

Eighth- throught 12-graders

All of the above, but if the diptheria/tetanus/pertussis shot has not been given in the last 10 years, a booster is needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends these vaccines for the 11-year-old or 12-year-old check up:

  • HPV vaccine
    Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against HPV infections that cause cancer. For kids age 9-14, it’s two doses, one six months to a year after the first. For kids 15 or older, it’s three doses, the second one to two months after the first; the third, six months after the first.
  • Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
    Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal. It recommends one dose at 11.
  • Tdap vaccine
    Tdap vaccine provides a booster to continue protection from childhood against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough).
  • Flu vaccine
    Preteens and teens should get a flu vaccine every year, by the end of October if possible. It is very important for preteens and teens with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy kids.

RELATED: FluMist will be back this year

The CDC recommends this vaccine at the 16-year check up:

  • A second dose of meningococcal ACWY

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine recommends this vaccines at the 16-year check up:

  • meningococcal B vaccine.

RELATED: Back to school to-do list: Schedule doctor visit for vaccines, sports physicals

Think your child doesn’t need to be vaccinated. Dr. Don Murphey, an infectious disease specialist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, who has been treating infectious disease in Texas children for almost a quarter of a century, explained to us last school why vaccines are so important.

Last year he saw seen mumps cases, like the ones at UT, come into Dell Children’s. Last year by August, Texas had more than 200 cases. “Before 2000, we had almost no cases of mumps,” he says.

He’s also seen in recent years more measles, whooping cough, pneumococcal meningitis and Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis.

What’s going on here?

We’re seeing what doctors have been seeing in Europe, especially France and the United Kingdom, but on a smaller scale, Murphey says. The rates of mumps and measles in particular skyrocketed there after “The Lancet” medical journal published a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that it later had to retract. Wakefield lost his license because of it.

Wakefield’s study found a link to autism from the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Multiple studies including those funded by plantiff’s lawyers who were looking for a link found no-such link. What happens, though, is that the MMR vaccine is given around the same time — about 12 months to 15 months — as when many kids with autism start to show signs.

Yet, the misinformation and the fear of vaccines persisted. Parents in Europe stopped vaccinating and Europe no longer had the “herd” immunity that happens when at least 90 percent to 95 percent of the population are vaccinated against a disease.

Diseases like measles and mumps that we just didn’t see are happening again. We rely on the herd immunity to protect us. You see these vaccines are not fool-proof, and they have waning effects. In the case of the students at UT, even if college students have been vaccinated as children but are exposed to mumps now, they might not be fully immune and get it.

Murphey says the mumps vaccine we use “is a very safe one. It doesn’t cause any meningitis,” he says. “It works great for herd immunity, but it doesn’t work if you’re exposed.”

If you do get mumps, it isn’t the worst thing most of the time. You get a fever, you feel bad for a few days, he says. Boys can also get an infection in their testes and girls in their ovaries. What is scary is that mumps can lead to meningitis and deafness.

While mumps is not a terrible disease, we could avoid the whole thing, if people who can get immunized do get immunized, he says.

For parents who are considering or are using an alternative vaccine schedule and delaying vaccines, Murphey encourages them not to. “Alternative schedules have never been shown to be any safer,” he says.

By delaying vaccines, you’re not protecting the most vulnerable population, who can get the most sick from these disease — infants and small children. They end up in the hospital or worse.

“You want to start protecting those kids as soon as possible,” Murphey says.

Vaccinate, please, if not for your own child, but for the other children.


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