“It is important not to wait until the last minute,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga, president of LaSalle Medical Associates. “As we get closer to August, more schools will be opening for a new year, and we will become even busier.”
Schools start their fall terms soon and that means it’s time to get your children’s annual checkup and vaccinations. From Covid to measles, it takes a concerted effort to prevent outbreaks and parents who care for their children and other people’s children need to make sure their kids’ vaccinations are up to date.
Some social media posts have claimed that vaccines can cause autism spectrum disorder. This is false. Studies either done by or funded by the Centers for Disease Control have found “...no link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] in children.”
The CDC goes on to say, “The COVID-19 vaccines for children have the same active ingredients as the vaccines given to adults. However, children receive a smaller and more age-appropriate dose that is right for them. The smaller doses were rigorously tested and found to create the needed immune response for each age group. Making it important for your child to get the vaccine made for their age group.”
Whether your child is starting kindergarten or is a senior in high school, visiting the pediatrician for immunizations should be an important part of back-to-school preparations. Many schools start in August, so it’s not too soon to make that appointment.
“It is important not to wait until the last minute,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga., president of LaSalle Medical Associates. “As we get closer to August, more schools will be opening for a new year, and we will become even busier.”
There are four vaccinations all kindergarteners must have before entering school for the first time, said Dr. Cheryl Emoto, medical director for LaSalle Medical Associates. And, as they grow older, children need additional immunizations.
“Children entering kindergarten should receive boosters for Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and Varicella (chicken pox),” she said.
If parents have kept up with their child’s immunizations from birth, only booster immunizations for the above diseases are needed. However, they should have also received vaccinations for these and several other diseases prior to age 2, and as kindergarteners may need several doses of immunizations if not “caught up.”
When children turn 11, they can and should receive the meningitis vaccine for the first time, Dr. Emoto said. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends children this age receive another Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) booster, she noted.
Parents can schedule these vaccines shortly after the child’s 11th birthday, but they can also be part of a back-to-school immunization routine for any student, even those over 18.
“Children older than 11 who have not received these vaccines should also come in to get them,” Dr. Emoto said. “And if you have a teenager who is enrolling in college, planning to live in a dormitory, and hasn’t been vaccinated for meningitis, Covid and other communicable diseases, they should be vaccinated now.”
Girls aged 9 and older, and young women up to age 26 who have not had a sexual encounter, can receive the vaccine against the human papilloma (HPV) virus. While giving this vaccine to girls in elementary school is not without controversy, many doctors, including those at LaSalle Medical Associates, are highly in favor.
“The HPV virus is the main cause of cervical cancer,” Emoto explained. “It is important that a girl receive three doses, which are given over a six-month period, before her first sexual encounter in order for the vaccine to be fully effective.”
One vaccination not available during the back-to-school season is the flu shot. Flu shots are given in the fall when the vaccine becomes available from manufacturers. The CDC also points out, “Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years, and there has been extensive research supporting the safety of flu vaccines.”
“We depend on when the vaccine is shipped,” Emoto said. “We may have flu vaccines in September this year, but in past years it wasn’t until October that we received the vaccine. Once we receive it, we encourage all children six months to 18 years to receive an annual flu vaccine.”
Children younger than 8 who are being immunized against flu for the first time receive a two-part vaccine, she said. The second dose is given four to six weeks after the first.
“Healthy children 2 years of age and older have the option of receiving the vaccination as a nasal spray instead of as an injection, Emoto said. The nasal spray is just as effective.”