Back-to-school immunizations current?

Scotland County Health Department wants to promote a healthy and safe back-to-school season. Parents have been busy buying school supplies and back packs, new clothes and sports gear, along with attending open house and getting their children’s school and sports schedules. Scotland County schools have also been gearing up for the new school year as well! So it’s the perfect time to make sure your kids are up to date on their vaccines!

Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling to protect the health of all students. Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life threatening diseases, including polio, measles and whooping cough (pertussis). When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk and can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems or other health conditions. We all know immunizations are not particularly fun for children or adults, but parents can help kids overcome their fear of being vaccinated with these tips:

* Make sure your child understands what immunizations are and why they are important. Be open and honest and explain what the process is.

* Never threaten or make immunization ‘shots’ a form of punishment for your child. That only worsens a child’s fear.

* Offer a distraction or treat afterwards – anything that might take your child’s focus off of the vaccination.

* Hold your child – let them hug you or hold your hand for comfort.

* Lead by example – take your child with you when you receive vaccinations so they can see the process is quick and most often painless.

“Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease and Control’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their children’s health,” said Alisa Freeman, RN, BSN, Family Planning and Immunization Supervisor at Scotland County Health Department. “If you haven’t already, now is the time to check with your doctor or local health department to find out what your child needs, especially since there are new requirements for children entering school and for 7th graders that began July 1, 2015.”

School-age children need vaccines. For example, children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio. Preteens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), Menactra (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines when they are 11 to 12 years old. In addition, yearly influenza vaccines, to help protect against the flu, are recommended for all children 6 months and older.

Scotland County Health Department is offering immunizations Monday thru Friday. Please call for an appointment. VFC Vaccines are available for children birth through 18 years old who meet the

following criteria: Medicaid enrolled; Un-insured; under-insured; American Indian or Alaskan Native. Please bring Medicaid Card. Private vaccine is also available.

Please contact Scotland County Health Department at 910-277-2440 for more information. Also, check out Scotland County Health Department’s Facebook page for additional tips and health information. To find out more about the recommended immunization schedule parents can visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html.

Kathie Cox is a health educator with Scotland County Health Department.

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