Now is the time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines before the start of school. Getting children all recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to …
Now is the time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines before the start of school. Getting children all recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to help protect their kids' health, the health of their classmates and their community. Childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, whooping cough and chickenpox.
Parents need to vaccinate their children according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' immunization schedule, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Alabama state law requires children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling them in childcare centers and schools to protect the health of all students, and a Certificate of Immunization must be presented.
Immunization is crucial. Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough and as many as 20 deaths of babies each year in the United States. Most whooping cough deaths are among babies who are too young to be protected by their mother's vaccination.
School-age children need vaccines. For example, children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis, also called whooping cough), chickenpox, MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and polio. Guidelines for specific vaccines for preteens and teens follow.
Communities with groups of unvaccinated people are vulnerable to preventable diseases. At least 95 percent of people in a community need to be immunized for measles to achieve "herd" immunity. Herd immunity protects the people who received the vaccine as well as children too young to be vaccinated, persons with medical conditions preventing vaccination, and the less than 3 percent of people who do not respond to the vaccine.
Although it is not a requirement for school entry, the COVID-19 vaccine is now available at county health departments for ages 6 months and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older. COVID-19 vaccines are very effective against the original virus and many of its variants. In addition, everyone aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated every year with the influenza vaccine as soon as it becomes available in the community.
Check with your child's health care provider or local health department to find out what specific vaccines they need this year. Parents can find out more about the immunizations children need at https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/immunization/