Summer is winding down and the new school year is around the corner. Have you taken your child to see his or her primary care physician for an annual checkup? Now is a great time to see your PCP and bring your child up-to-date on immunizations.
Vaccines are important for a variety of reasons. Not only do they protect your child from illnesses, they can help stop the spread of diseases. Back to school is a good time to make sure your child is up-to-date on his or her vaccinations.
Here is a handy guide to which immunizations your school-aged child should have.
If your child is 4-6
Children entering preschool and kindergarten should be wrapping up immunizations that were started when they were younger. At this age, you will want to schedule your child to receive his or her last rounds of DTaP, Polio, MMR and Varicella. These vaccines will protect your child against tetanus, mumps, chicken pox and more.
If your child is 11-12
You child should have already finished full rounds of most immunizations by now. If she hasn’t, now is the time to check in with your primary care doctor and discuss what you can do to bring your child up-to-date. As children head towards their teen years, they will need a few new immunizations and a booster. Your 11-12 year old should receive the following vaccines:
MCV4 vaccine: This vaccine protects against meningococcal disease, a very serious disease that can lead to death.
HPV: this vaccine helps protect against HPV, which has been linked to cancer. This is a three-dose series that needs to be completed before your child turns 13.
Tdap booster: This vaccine will protect your child against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. The Tdap vaccine boosts the DTaP vaccine your child should have completed when he or she was younger. The booster provides continued protection for your child.
If your child is older than 12
Adults and teens should get a Tdap booster every 10 years. Teens should get a booster MCV4 vaccine when they are 16. Teens may also want to consider a MenB vaccine. Talk to your teen’s primary care physician about if a MenB vaccine is a good idea for your teen.
All Children and Teens
It is recommended that all children and teens receive a flu vaccine. A flu vaccine is a great excuse to make a yearly check in appointment for your child if he or she has not already had one. This gives you a chance to check in with your doctor and talk about any concerns. Many pharmacies also offer flu vaccines these days, making it easier than ever to get a vaccine. If you can’t get in with your doctor, call your local pharmacy and see if and when they offer flu shots. Also, many college health centers offer flu shots to students. If your college student can’t get home for a vaccine, have him or her stop by their college health center or local pharmacy.
If you have any concerns about vaccines or worries about allergic reactions contact your local family physician. For those worried about an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, especially those who suffer from severe egg allergies, the vaccine should be completed under the supervision of a qualified medical professional in a medical setting.