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Medical Minutes: Answers to frequently asked questions

School Vaccinations

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Karen Smith Wong


Question: Should my children still get their Back to School vaccinations even during the COVID 19 pandemic?

Yes, definitely. The CDC has sounded the alarm that immunization rates of children have fallen drastically during the COVID 19 pandemic and are urging parents and healthcare providers to ensure that all children get caught up on their much needed childhood vaccines. Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases that can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly.

What age groups need vaccines?

School age children and college students need vaccines. For example, kids who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, also called whooping cough), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and polio. Older children, like pre-teens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), HPV (human papillomavirus), and MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate virus) vaccines. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children 6 months and older. If a child is behind schedule on their vaccines, their health care provider can use the CDC recommended catch-up-immunization schedule to get them up to date.

How do I know which vaccine my child needs?

If you have questions about vaccination, ask your child’s doctor or healthcare professional. Your child’s doctor will give you Vaccine Information Statements for the vaccines that your child will be getting that day. You can also discuss a catch up vaccine schedule if your child is behind in vaccines or if you have selected to delay certain vaccines. Bear in mind that on time vaccinations prevent the spread of disease. The recent measles outbreak in the US was due to children not receiving routine measles vaccine on time.

Please call your health care provider if you think your child is past due for immunizations. If you have questions about immunizations or the diseases they prevent, especially if you have chosen not to immunize, feel free arrange a consultative or telemedicine visit.

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