With the beginning of August comes the planning for the new school year. And one of the most important details to be attended to by parents is the adequate protection of their child from communal diseases.
There are new vaccines and vaccine recommendations that may mean your child needs shots this year before going back to school, including:
- a chickenpox booster shot
- Menactra, a shot that provides protection against meningitis
- Gardasil, the HPV vaccine for older school age girls, although it is not yet required for attending school
In Colorado, the following vaccinations are required for school-aged children:
- Hepatitis B (Hep B) – Three doses are required for all students K through 12th grades to protect against a serious liver disease that can lead to liver damage, liver cancer, and death.
- Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (DTaP/Tdap/DT/Td) – Five doses of DTaP or DT are required for children under 7 years of age and one dose of Tdap is required for students in 6th through 12th grades. Td is required for children 7 to 10 years of age who have not completed the DTaP or DT series. DTaP, DT, Td & Tdap are the vaccines that protect against tetanus (a disease that causes painful muscle stiffness, convulsions and death) and diphtheria (a disease that can cause suffocation, paralysis, heart failure, and death). The pertussis portion of the vaccine protects against whooping cough, which can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and death. Tdap vaccine will help protect adolescents from the whooping cough or pertussis disease and it will help prevent them from infecting infants and smaller children in the family.
- Polio (IPV) – Up to 4 doses of the vaccine are required and protects against paralysis, typically of the legs, as well as the muscles that help us breathe.
- Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) – Two doses of this vaccine are required to protect against three diseases. Measles can cause ear infection, pneumonia, seizures, inflammation of the brain, and death. Mumps can lead to deafness, meningitis, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and occasionally, death. Rubella in pregnant women can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects to the unborn child.
- Varicella or Chickenpox (Var) – Two doses are required for children in kindergarten through 4th grade. One dose is required for children in 5th through 11th grade. This vaccine protects against chickenpox disease, a rash illness that can lead to skin infections, pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and on occasion, death.
To learn more about each disease, please visit: http://www.ImmunizeForGood.com/vaccines.
For parents concerned about the safety of vaccines, the American Academy of Pediatrics has extensive information on it’s website concerning the issue. The information points out that vaccines contain antigens, which are either live but very weakened viruses, inactivated viruses, or small parts of bacteria or viruses that prompt the body to produce protective antibodies without causing the disease. Even though children receive more vaccines now, the total number of antigens is less because today’s vaccines are more refined than older versions. At a very young age, children’s immune systems are equipped to respond to many antigens at the same time, including those in vaccines as well as the ones they encounter in their daily activities such as eating, breathing and playing.
In addition to antigens, vaccines contain ingredients to prevent contamination and improve effectiveness. These
ingredients have been found to be safe in humans in the quantities given in vaccines, which is much less than
children are exposed to in their environment, food and water. Valid scientific studies have shown there is no link
between autism and thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative once used in several vaccines (and still used in
some flu vaccine). However, since thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines in 2001, autism rates have
actually increased, supplying further evidence that thimerosal does not cause autism.
Before a vaccine is licensed, it is studied in thousands of children and in combination with other vaccines. After
licensure, the federal government continues to monitor a vaccine’s safety. This continuous monitoring ensures
researchers will uncover any rare side effects, even if they affect only a small number of children. For example, a
rotavirus vaccine was withdrawn in 1999 after it was linked to intestinal blockages in about 100 children. This
vaccine was replaced by a new and safer product. Today’s recommended vaccines have been shown to be safe
and effective for millions of children.