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Examiner
  • Larry D. Jones: Back-to-school immunizations are required protection

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  • One of the 10 greatest of achievements in public health in the 20th century is immunizations.
    At the beginning of the 20th century, infectious diseases were common in the United States and took a large toll on the population. During the 1900s, extensive achievements have been made in the control of many vaccine-preventable diseases to the point where many of these diseases are almost gone from the United States. However, until a disease is eliminated, it is important to keep immunizing.
    Make sure your children are up-to-date on vaccines before sending them back to school. School-age children, from preschoolers to college students, need vaccines. Making sure that children of all ages receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to ensure your children's long-term health, as well as the health of friends, classmates, and others in your community.
    To keep children in schools healthy, Missouri requires children going to school to be vaccinated against certain diseases.
    Before kindergarten, several vaccines are required including Dtap (protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), IPV (protects against polio virus), MMR (protects against measles, mumps, and rubella), Hepatitis B, and varicella (protects against chicken pox). Hepatitis A and the influenza vaccine are also recommended immunizations.
    Older children need vaccines, too. The Tdap, is now required in Missouri before entering the eighth grade. And as kids get older, they are more at risk for catching certain diseases, like meningococcal meningitis, so they need the protection that vaccines provide. It is recommended that all students who reside in on-campus housing at any public university in Missouri get the meningococcal booster vaccine.
    Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccination each year. Getting your children, family members, and caregivers vaccinated can help protect infants younger than 6 months old. When your child is due for a flu vaccine, keep in mind that the flu strain is different every season, and so is the flu vaccine. The flu shot should be given in the fall season every year.
    Specific vaccines, like HPV, which helps protect against certain cancers, are recommended to be given during the preteen (11-12) years. Getting every recommended dose of each vaccine provides children with the best protection possible.
    Vaccinations have reduced the number of infections from vaccine-preventable diseases by more than 90 percent. Talk to your healthcare provider about recommended childhood and adolescent vaccinations. For more information about immunizations, contact the health department at 816-325-7185 or go to www.immunize.org .
    Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.

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