We’re in the final stretch of summer break and that means the back-to-school season is just around the corner. Before your children head to class, it’s important to check in with their provider to make sure they aren’t falling behind on their immunizations because routine vaccinations are vital part of keeping everyone in good health.
“Illnesses like measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox are preventable through vaccination,” says SSM Health pediatrician Dr. Dan Beardmore. “Because these types of sickness can be serious enough to require hospitalization or even lead to death, it’s important to stay on top of the vaccine recommendations.”
Getting immunized is also critical to the health of our community. If you don’t know if your kids are up to date on childhood immunizations, you can check your state immunization records or simply reach out to your child’s provider to see what’s needed to be fully immunized by the start of the school year.
“The risks of not vaccinating your child are significant,” says Dr. Beardmore. “Often, kids are contagious before they even know they’re sick. In the case of measles and chickenpox, contagiousness occurs before developing a rash. Children can go to school and unknowingly expose others to the illness and if any of the other kids are not vaccinated, they can get sick too. It can spread through an entire community quickly.”
When it comes to the development of safe and effective vaccines, the CDC explains the thorough process. As for the recommended timing of vaccines, there is a standard schedule in the U.S. for families to follow. Each recommended vaccine is carefully reviewed by hundreds of doctors before it is approved for use. From there, doctors and other medical experts weigh the safety of the vaccine and the risk of the illness to determine its inclusion in the schedule, as well as the timing of when children should receive the vaccine.
Vaccine schedules are designed to protect children based on how their immune system responds to a vaccine at various ages and how likely your child is to be exposed to different illnesses as they grow. For example, infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to pertussis, or whooping cough, so they receive immunization against the virus early in life, with regular booster doses as they age. For other illnesses like meningitis, vaccination doesn’t happen until adolescence when your child would be more likely to be exposed to the virus.
Parents and caregivers who have questions or concerns about the vaccine schedule or specific vaccines should talk with their child’s doctor.
If your child needs to catch up on his or her immunizations or needs an annual exam, schedule an appointment with an SSM Health provider today.