Before school starts, make sure your child's vaccines are current

Aug 17 2010 - 10:57pm

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(Standard-Examiner file photo) Public health nurse Donna Petersen gives a shot during a mass vaccination exercise at Bonneville High School in 2004.
(Standard-Examiner file photo) Public health nurse Donna Petersen gives a shot during a mass vaccination exercise at Bonneville High School in 2004.

School starts in less than a week for most kids. Are their vaccinations up to date?

Last year, some new recommendations were made to the vaccination schedule for students entering junior high school. Weber-Morgan Health Department and Davis County Health Department want to remind parents of those changes.

"While the new schedule has been around for a year, it's still new to a lot of people," said Weber-Morgan Health Department immunization program manager Michelle Singleton. "Students entering seventh grade need to be up to date on their tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations, and we are asking them to get the booster that has pertussis added to it."

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, has wreaked havoc in California recently, causing several deaths and sickening hundreds of people.

"We haven't had an epidemic like California, but the illness is present here," Singleton said. "We're trying to control it, but just immunizing infants isn't controlling it. Parents, grandparents, caregivers and other adults need to get the booster as well."

Junior high school students also need a chickenpox booster shot if they haven't received one. If they have documented proof they had chickenpox, they won't need the vaccine. A second hepatitis A vaccine also is required.

"We are also strongly recommending kids get a meningococcal vaccine," Singleton said. "That vaccine protects against bacterial meningitis."

Children in kindergarten will need to be up to date on polio, measles, mumps and rubella, hepatitis A and B, and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Children in day care and preschool programs also are being required to get a pneumococcal booster, which protects against 13 strains of pneumonia, Singleton said.

"Even if they have finished that series, they are being asked to get a booster, which will be required by the end of the year," she said.

Also newly approved this year is the HPV vaccine for boys beginning at age 9.

Gardasil, which was originally given to girls to prevent cervical cancer, is now available for boys to prevent genital warts. Each year, approximately two of every 1,000 men are newly diagnosed with genital warts, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine is given in three doses over a six-month period.

Girls also are being encouraged to receive the vaccine beginning at age 9.

Vaccines are available at most doctors' offices as well as both health departments.

Davis County Health Department immunization clinics are at 569 W. 750 South, Woods Cross, and 140 E. Center St., Clearfield. Weber- Morgan Health Department is at 477 23rd St., Ogden.

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