Back to School Immunization: Give It a Shot

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As modern medicine becomes more advanced, it’s easy to forget just how essential some of the most basic medical services are. In an age where polio and smallpox diagnoses are non-existent, many parents fail to realize the importance of vaccines, which prevent these and many other serious diseases that have no other cure. Though it can be scary to see your child given shots—sometimes several at once—it’s important to remember that the alternative can be debilitating or deadly. In the back-to-school season, a checkup with the pediatrician to stay up to date with your child’s immunizations should be at the top of your to do list. Not only will this ensure the health of your child and his or her peers, but it may be necessary for admission to both public and private schools.

Why Schools Require Immunization

Schools have a responsibility to keep all students safe, so districts may individually mandate that all students receive certain vaccinations—DtaP, MMR, and Pneumococcal among others—prior to enrollment. In addition, many states require by law that students are vaccinated prior to enrollment in public schools. In the wake of recent outbreaks of whooping cough and the measles, some schools may become even more strict with vaccination requirements. For example, religious exemption has been removed from California’s laws regarding childhood immunization. If you do have concerns about the safety and necessity of vaccinations for your child, speak directly with a pediatrician rather than trying to work around state laws or district rules to avoid vaccination.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until School Age for Your Kid’s Shots

For many parents, the decision to vaccinate their children is not in question, though they choose to wait until children are older before giving them certain vaccines. The intention is to space out vaccines to avoid a chemical overload for the body, but this reasoning utilizes the false assumption that infants and toddlers are adversely affected by receiving multiple vaccinations at once. Rather than exploring alternative vaccine schedules, you should stick to the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedules (See below), which you can review with your physician. These schedules have been designed to provide immunization against various diseases at critical points in development, and deviating from this schedule can be harmful for your child. The only time you might consider delaying vaccines until school age or later is if your child is critically ill and unable to receive immunizations.

Which Shots You May Need Too

When you bring your child in for back-to-school shots, you might think about any shots that you may be due for yourself. Adults should have annual flu shots, which may just become available as the school year begins. It is also necessary to have a tetanus booster at least once every 10 years.

If you aren’t sure what to make of conflicting news and concerns about vaccines, speak directly with a medical provider through MeMD. We can connect you with a board-certified provider who can answer questions and provide an online medical consultation that fits into your busy back-to-school schedule.

CDC Easy-to-Read Schedule for Children, Birth through 6 Years