(Photo by Nancy Nelson)
Opening day of school is fast approaching and parents may be busily preparing their children for the first bell. All the school clothing and supplies have probably been purchased. However, there may be a few things parents might not think of when their child enters school. It is a good time of year to remember to have an annual physical and dental checkup if parents don't already regularly do so. Most parents are aware that immunizations are required to enter kindergarten but might not think about necessary immunizations as the child gets older. Students in middle school, high school and even college bound students need to check current recommendations and update their immunizations.
According to Kristen Cedar, RN at Cherokee County Community Health, state law requires children to have certain immunizations prior to entering kindergarten. Children entering kindergarten should already have record of three doses of DTaP (Diphtheria Tetanus acellar Pertussis) beginning after the child's first birthday. A child should also have three doses of the polio vaccine after their first birthday. MMR (Mumps Measles and Rubella) vaccines are given in two doses on or after 12 months of age in two doses no less than 30 days apart. All children are also required to have had the Hepatitis B series which requires three doses to complete. In the last decade the Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine has become available and children should be given one dose on or after their first birthday or already had the natural disease as stated by the parent.
If a child attends a licensed child care and/or preschool the requirements for immunizations are as follows:
2-18 months of age:
DTaP - 1 dose
Polio - 1 dose
Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) - 1 dose
18 months of age and older:
DTaP - 3 doses
Polio - 3 doses
Hib - 3 doses or one dose after 15 months of age
MMR - 1 dose
Varicella - 1 dose
Things to remember
It is very important to keep a personal record of your child's immunization. Do not rely on others to keep the record for you. In recent years the Iowa Department of Public Health developed a program called IRIS (Immunization Registry Information System). IRIS is a computerized registry that permanently stores a record of immunizations and can be used to remind patients when vaccines are due. The registry contains over 1 million patient records from across the state and has been helpful keeping children's immunizations current and preventing unnecessary doses of vaccines.
Attention college bound students
Three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine are required for students born on or after July 1, 1994, prior to enrollment in school. Most colleges also require the vaccine for all students. There is a group of students that fell in that time frame and did not receive the Hepatitis B series, but now need them to enter college. "We encourage parents to check their child's immunization record and get the Hepatitis Be series now through the Iowa Vaccines for Children Program." stated Cedar. The Hepatitis B series must be started prior to a child's nineteenth birthday in order to be covered. Cost of the vaccine for adults, ages 19 and over, is $50 per dose at Cherokee County Community Health.
New changes in immunizations
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) released formal recommendations for the use of Menactra (MCV4), a Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine. The recommendations are for routine use of the vaccine at the pre-adolescent visit (11-12 years of age), adolescents at high school entry (15 years), and all college freshmen living in dorms (17-18 years).
Due to limited funding and vaccine availability, the Iowa Vaccines for Children Program will only provide MCV4 to those in the 11-12 year and college freshmen living in dorms. Every year 2500 people are infected with meningococcus and 300 die from the disease. Meningococcal disease is particularly dangerous because of its rapid onset. Even early medical care can be too late. College students living in dormitories are of highest risk due to close living quarters increasing likelihood of transmission.
Due to the rise in cases of Pertussis in recent years, the ACIP has made the recommendation that children receive a Tdap (Tetanus Diphtheria Pertussis) vaccine at the 11-12 year old pre-adolescent visit instead of the Td (Tetanus Diphtheria) which is currently given. The recommendation now needs to be reviewed by the director of the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), and will become official when published. Two Tdap vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection, in which immunity wanes over time, leaving adolescents susceptible.
Upcoming immunization clinics at Cherokee County Community Health are scheduled on Tuesdays, August 23, September 13, and September 27 from 3-6 p.m. in the lower level of Cherokee County Courthouse 520 West Main in Cherokee. Staff encourages parents to bring their children in for their school required vaccinations anytime after their 4th birthday. It is often easier on the child to get them done earlier than later.