Up to Date on Vaccine Shots?

Up to Date on Vaccine Shots?

Back to school means immunizations.

As the summer comes to an end, children return from camps and their parents get ready to buy back to school supplies; there's one last thing parents need to make sure their children get: the necessary immunizations.

"It is critical for the children to have the vaccine at the appropriate [age] ," said Pat Trahan, public health nurse supervisor for the Fairfax County Health Department.

Trahan said that, although each child is different and each situation can be worked through differently, it is important that parents are aware of the time frame for each of their child's necessary vaccinations.

The Fairfax County public school's web site, www.fcps.edu, lists the required vaccines and age groups when children should receive them. Trahan said that although there are time frames listed, if a child has missed a shot, they can consult with their physician and get caught up.

The Virginia Department of Health's web site lists the required vaccines, which Trahan said children need to have to be admitted to public, and most private, schools.

The vaccines that are required for all children entering school or day care in Virginia protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, measles, mumps, rubella, polio and varicella, and Trahan reminded that any child born after 1997 needs a chicken pox vaccination.

Trahan emphasized not only the importance of protecting children and young adults from these vaccine-preventable diseases, but by doing so families are also protecting themselves from the various diseases.

"We want to remind parents too, that vaccines happen through out a life span, it's important for teens, when they turn 14, to get a tetanus shot," said Trahan, adding that college students should also get a meningococcal vaccination, to protect against meningitis, a communal disease.

There are other vaccines, such as those for pneumococcal infections and influenza, are not required by the state for school enrollment, but Trahan said they are important for children and teens to receive.

"It's important that if parents have questions that they need to talk to a physician, or if they have any concerns," said Trahan of the suggestion that some parents aren't getting vaccines because of a fear that their children will build up an immunity to the vaccine.

"It's very important that they get started, the wait times will be long at the end of August," said Trahan, urging parents to head to clinics and doctor's offices this week to get their children vaccinated before school starts.

"These vaccines will protect children against communicable diseases," said Trahan adding that the Fairfax County Health Department offers five walk-in clinics for immunizations across the county to make it easier.

<1b>— Brynn Grimley