Wellness Wednesday: Back-to-school immunization guidelines for kids

SALT LAKE CITY - Many parents don’t realize or forget their child will need immunizations before starting school; they may also need a sports physical to be able to play on a school team. In Utah, unless you have an exemption, immunizations are required before kids enter pre-school, kindergarten and seventh grade.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Medical Director of Community Health and Prevention, Dr. Tamara Sheffield says a check-up at the beginning of the school year is a great idea to make sure your child is current on prescriptions and immunizations.

Vaccines required by the Utah Department of Health for children enrolled in early childhood programs:

  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP/Tdap)
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Pneumococcal

Vaccines required by the Utah Department of Health for students entering kindergarten:

  • 5 DTaP/Tdap
  • 4 Polio
  • 2 Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • 3 Hepatitis B
  • 2 Hepatitis A
  • 2 Varicella (Chickenpox) – history of disease is acceptable, parent must sign verification statement

Vaccines required by the Utah Department of Health for students entering seventh grade.\

  • 1 Tdap
  • 3 Hepatitis B
  • 2 Varicella (Chickenpox) – history of disease is acceptable, parent must sign verification statement
  • 1 Meningococcal

What about the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is recommended for young teens to protect against sexually transmitted infections that can cause cancer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV infections. Children can receive the HPV vaccine at age 11 and need only two shots if they start the series before age 15.

Don’t forget the Flu Vaccine:

Every spring, experts study the strains of flu that are circulating in other parts of the world and the 3 or 4 most common strains are selected to create that year’s flu vaccine. The new version is usually available in late September or early October, so mark your calendar to get the vaccine every year.

  • Can you get the flu from the vaccine? The vaccine works by stimulating your body to produce antibodies that fight the predicted strains. While your body’s immune system is making the antibodies, you may feel a little under the weather, but symptoms are not nearly as bad as the alternative. It takes about 2 weeks for maximum protection after getting your vaccination. This is by far the most effective way to avoid disease for yourself and protect those who cannot receive the vaccine.
  • The flu vaccine is important because the flu can be deadly for young children and those who cannot get the vaccine. Statistics show healthy children can die from the flu and the vaccine can save lives. Influenza is the number-one cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in U.S. children, according to the National Vital Statistics Reports. In fact, more than twice as many children under age 14 die from the flu each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined (polio, measles, whooping cough, hepatitis, and meningitis) according to the Fluzone Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine 2017 Fact Sheet.
  • How old do children need to be to get a flu shot? Flu vaccines are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control every year for babies more than six months old and children and teens.

Stay healthy once school starts:

  • Keep sick children home if they have a fever, diarrhea, active cough or are contagious.
  • Teach your children to wash their hands properly at home, school and immediately after they get home from school.
  • Directions for proper handwashing from the CDC – Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to lather backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.

If you have questions on which vaccines you need, see your health care provider.

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