Add Immunizations to Your Back-to-School List
Summer is fading and it's time to start thinking back to school. Is your child ready? Not only do they need crayons, pens, folders, and a backpack, but they may be in need of immunizations to keep them healthy while they learn. Immunizations are an important part of preventative care, not only for the child themselves, but also for others in the community. As you get that list for school supplies, here's another item you’ll want to make note of: a vaccine schedule!
Vaccines are given at certain times throughout the lives of children and adults to prevent disease. No one vaccine is perfect, but staying up-to-date and getting vaccines within the recommended timeframe will help keep everyone healthy and safe. This is especially important as we have had outbreaks of Whooping Cough and other preventable diseases here in Missouri. Below are the recommended vaccines and the ages at which they should be given:
- Hepatitis B is given at birth, 2 months , and 6 months
- Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Polio (inactivated), Rotavirus, Prevnar 13 (S. Pneumonia), Haemophilus Influenza are given at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Varicella (Chicken Pox), Hepatitis A, Prevnar 13, Haemophilus Influenza are given between 12-18 months and Hepatitis A booster is given 6 months after the first shot is given
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Varicella (Chicken Pox) booster are given between 4-6 years of age.
- Tetanus and Pertussis (Tdap) are given at age 11-12, and then every 7-10 years after a Td is given for a tetanus booster.
- Human Papilloma Virus vaccines for the prevention of cervical cancer is given age 11-12 years of age for both boys and girls and are a 3 dose series.
- Meningitis vaccine is given at age 11-12 with a booster at age 16.
- Influenza vaccines should be given every year in the fall from 6 months of age and through adult hood.
Now, I know this sounds like quite a few shots, but thankfully many of these shots are combined with other vaccines. For example, MMR is a single vaccine that has Measles, Mumps, and Rubella in it, it’s really 3 in 1! Likewise, Pediarix is a vaccine given to infants that includes Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Polio (inactivated), and Hepatitis B all in one. This saves both the nurses and your child from too many pokes at once!
As with anything in medicine, immunizations are not without side effects. So what can you expect as possible side effects after your child or adolescent has had their shots? Most commonly immunizations can cause redness and tenderness at the site of the immunization. Some will also have a low grade fever, decreased appetite, decreased sleeping, or even upper respiratory symptoms. These side effects are all short-lived, and tend to go away within a few days. A serious side effect of vaccines is Guillain-Barre Syndrome which is a disease that causes muscle weakness that can lead to breathing difficulties. However, this is a very rare potential side effect to immunizations.
Vaccinations & Autism
A "side effect" of immunizations that is talked about a great deal in the media is Autism. For decades, some people have claimed that immunizations, namely ones with thimerosal as an additive, cause Autism. Autism is a disorder that affects brain development affecting emotions and social interaction. It is usually first detectable around 18 months of age, which is the end of the infant immunization schedule. Although at this time, we do not know what exactly causes Autism, we do know that there is NO link between immunizations and Autism. There have been many scientific studies that show this, including a report from the CDC denouncing a link between vaccines and Autism. Currently, there are only a few types of influenza vaccine as well as a generic tetanus booster that still contain thimerosal. All other vaccines are thimerosal free, but do contain other preservatives/additives including aluminum salts, neomycin, polymixin b, gelatin, albumin, and formaldehyde. None of these other additives have shown a link to autism.
Now I know this is a lot of information and may be confusing at times, but we are here to help! At CMH whether it is your family practitioner's office or your child’s pediatrician, we can answer all your questions and address your concerns about immunizations, help get your child up-to-date, and make sure you and your child are prepared for whatever this next school year will bring!
Have a Great School Year!
Dr. Kristina Kaufmann
Dallas County Family Medical Center
201 S. Ash, Buffalo, Mo 65622