Back to school immunizations up to date?

Kathie Cox Public Health Matters

We know parents are busy buying school supplies and backpacks, new clothes and sports gear, along with attending open house and getting their children’s school and sports schedules.

Scotland County schools and teachers 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! Scotland County Health Department wants to promote a healthy and safe Back-to-School season. We also know it can be challenging to understand which vaccines your children need and when. That’s what we are here for. That’s public health!

Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling to protect the health of all students. Today’s childhood vaccines offer protection from serious or potentially fatal diseases. 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 for that matter, 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 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 kindergarten and for seventh-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 the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine, the Menactra (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines when they are 11 to 12 years old.

Another important vaccine is the Meningitis B vaccine the CDC recommends for young adults age 16 to 23 years of age, preferably 16 to 18 years. Outbreaks of Meningitis B are rare but life-threatening. Be sure to ask your primary provider about this important vaccine even if your child has received the Menactra vaccine. The influenza (flu) vaccine, which will help protect against the flu and is recommended yearly, is another important vaccine and recommended for all children 6 months and older.

Scotland County Health Department is offering immunizations Monday through Friday and late immunization clinics will be offered for the public’s convenience. 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.

Contact Scotland County Health Department at 910-277-2440 for 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

Kathie Cox, is a health educator II/PIO for Scotland County Health Department.

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