Even if your child has fallen behind on the proper vaccination schedule you can make an appointment with their health care provider or your local health department to get back on track.
Nearly a month after Florida schools have returned for the 2019-20 year, the frenzy of the back-to-school season has calmed down. You may have checked items off your child’s supply list such as backpacks, loose-leaf paper and pencils but in preparing for the year did you check one of the most important items off your list: up-to-date vaccinations?
School supplies prepare your child to perform well in the classroom and vaccinations protect them from serious illness every day. Ensuring your child is healthy enough to attend school is an essential part of the learning process and ensures other students can have a productive year. Vaccinations not only defend your child from diseases but create a safe and healthy environment for everyone around. When all students, teachers and parents are vaccinated, something called community immunity occurs which offers little opportunity for the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is easier on the body and more cost-effective to prevent a disease rather than treat it after it occurs. One misinterpretation of vaccines is they are only for infants or seniors, which is not the case. It’s important for preteens and teens to get necessary vaccines and boosters as their childhood immunity wears off. Most required vaccines include DTap, IPV, MMR, chickenpox, Hib, PCV13, Hep B and Tdap. These vaccines are safe, effective and typically covered by insurance.
Starting at age 11, children need protection from meningitis, a deadly illness caused by bacteria that harms the brain and spinal cord. The CDC recommends children receive one dose of the meningitis vaccine (MenACWY) between ages 11 and 12 and a booster at age 16. The booster dose is critical because it provides protection at the age teens are most at risk for contracting meningitis. For teens and young adults, the meningitis vaccine (MenB) is also a critical vaccination, especially students preparing for college who are at an increased risk for contracting the deadly disease if living in small close quarters such as dorms.
Even if your child has fallen behind on the proper vaccination schedule you can make an appointment with their health care provider or your local health department to get back on track, you can even choose to get all your vaccinations completed at one time. At the Florida Parent Teacher Association, we are dedicated to protecting our students. We know prevention is key, so we urge you to speak with your doctor and make sure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
Debbie Sawa-Szostak is Health & Wellness Committee Chair for the Florida PTA.