What immunizations does my child need for school?
As school supplies start appearing in the retail stores and the summer nights get shorter, it’s a sure sign that the start of school is around the corner.
Along with the preparation often come last-minute attempts to get children scheduled for their wellness exams and vaccines. Pennsylvania requires children have the appropriate vaccinations by the first day of school. Preparing ahead of time for your child’s wellness exam can ensure that you are both ready to face the new school year.
What immunizations does my child need and why?
Unless a disease has been eradicated (such as small pox), there’s still a need to protect your child. There are 14 vaccine-preventable diseases you can protect your child from before the age of 2 – chickenpox (varicella), diptheria, flu (influenza), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza type B, measles, mumps, polio, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis). Recommended vaccines for children aged 7 to18 include flu, meningococcal, HPV and TdaP booster. Each vaccine has a recommended number of doses. Between the ages of 4-6, boosters for diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough — a combination also known as DTaP — polio, measles, mumps, mubella and varicella are recommended.
Johanna Vidal-Phelan, MD, MBA, is the medical director at Capital Blue Cross.
Pre-teens and teens need vaccinations too
Many parents put a lot of focus on immunizing their babies and young children, and rightfully so. But don’t forget that teenagers need important vaccinations as well. Teens and young adults are susceptible to several serious diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. They include pertussis, measles and meningitis.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following immunizations for teens and pre-teens:
- Tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) or tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster: Children ages 11 to 12 years. It also can be given at 13-18 years if not received at an earlier age.
- Meningococcal (meningitis): Children 11 to 12 years old, with a booster dose at 16 years old. Any older teen who has never been vaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): Children ages 11-12 years old should receive the first dosage. It is given as a two-dose series before age 15. Teens 13 years and older who did not receive any of the HPV vaccines when they were younger should complete the vaccine series. Adolescents older than 15 at the start of the vaccination series and young adults need three HPV shots for full protection.
- Influenza: All teenagers should be vaccinated every year.
- Hepatitis B: Most people who have a hepatitis B infection got the virus as teenagers or young adults. If teenagers have not been previously immunized with the three-dose hepatitis B vaccine as children, they needthisvaccine series.
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR): All teenagers should have received two doses of the MMR vaccine during their lifetime. If your child has not, the AAP recommends the immunization. In the event of an outbreak, a third vaccination is recommended.
- Chickenpox: This vaccine should be given to teens who have never had chickenpox and have never received this immunization. If a teenager is 13 years or older, two doses given a month apart will be needed.
- Pneumococcal: The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should be given to teenagers who have a condition that makes them more likely to get pneumococcal disease and the problems associated with it. Your child’s doctor can tell you if this vaccination is necessary.
- Hepatitis A: This vaccine is appropriate for teenagers who fall into any number of categories, including those who live in a community with a high rate of hepatitis A infections or are planning to travel to or attend school in a country or state with a high rate of hepatitis A infections. Your child’s doctor can tell you if this vaccination is necessary.
I’m worried about the adverse effects of the vaccines on my child?
With so much information, including incorrect information, going around these days, it’s important that you look for the facts about vaccines before making any health decisions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website can help you address the most common questions.
Besides reviewing vaccines, your provider will perform a physical exam of your child, review dietary and physical activity patterns, as well as provide health education or anticipatory guidance, and discuss growth and development schedules.
How much is this going to cost me?
If given by an in-network provider, and discussion is limited to wellness and not specific problems, this exam is considered a preventive and will be no cost to you.
As always, consult with your child’s doctor on any immunization schedule. To learn more information visit The American Academy of Pediatrics or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lisa is the Digital Manager at WITF. She works with reporters, editors and our audience to create engaging content for digital platforms.
She previously worked as an entertainment reporter and digital producer at PennLive/The Patriot-News, a copy editor at The Sentinel and a writer for a pet industry magazine.