How to keep your child disease-free during the school year
During the last-minute rush to buy school supplies and clothes, and to find that Darth Vader lunchbox that’s sold out everywhere, there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget—vaccinations.
With so much to do before the first day of school, it’s easy to overlook vaccinations. But they are an important step to ensuring your children are protected against serious, even life-threatening, diseases.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) implemented new vaccine requirements this year that may affect your child.
Beginning this fall, a new meningococcal vaccine requirement takes effect under Ohio law. All incoming seventh-graders must have one dose of the meningococcal vaccine. All incoming twelfth-graders must have a second dose of the vaccine.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends the vaccine routinely for some high-risk individuals. Doctors may also give the vaccine to anyone 16 to 23 years old to provide short-term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease.
Although the requirement is new, the vaccine is not. Doctors have recommended the vaccine for about a decade to prevent against meningococcal disease, which can cause blindness and loss of limbs. It can even be fatal. Read more about the vaccine on the Ohio Department of Health’s website.
Also, make sure your child has received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. It’s usually given to children at 12 to 15 months and at 4 to 6 years old. If your child has never had the MMR vaccine, make sure he or she gets it before school starts.
You may remember that in 2014, Ohio had 382 reported measles cases—more cases than in the past 20 years combined. Vaccination awareness helped get that number down to one reported case in 2015. An MMR vaccine will help prevent another outbreak. Now is the time to check with your doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs, and when.
Where to get vaccinated
Getting your children vaccinated is almost as easy as buying school supplies, but admittedly not as much fun. Would a cool new backpack ease the pain?
Neighborhood pharmacies, community health clinics, and local health departments, as well as private doctor’s offices, all have vaccines available. Most private health insurance plans cover the cost, as do Medicare and Medicaid for adults. For those without heatlh insurance, the Vaccines for Children Program helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians can’t afford the shots.
To help you keep track of immunizations and to get the latest update on vaccine-related questions, download the free Fast VAX Facts app, available in the App Store and on Google Play. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio Chapter, and ODH developed the app to make sure parents and doctors can get their hands on new information quickly and conveniently. Check it out!
In the U.S., vaccines have reduced and even eliminated infectious diseases that used to cause serious illness or death in infants, children, and adults. As we saw with the 2014 measles outbreak, these viruses are still around and can infect unvaccinated people. For the health and safety of you and your family, celebrate the start off the school season by getting your child up to date on necessary vaccinations.