Back to School Vaccines
It’s that time of year again. The back-to-school season is here, and that may mean that it’s time for your kid to get more vaccinations.
As your child enters kindergarten, they need the following vaccinations:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP)
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Polio (IPV)
- Yearly influenza (flu) vaccine
If your child is caught up on all their kindergarten vaccines, they shouldn’t need anything else. The one exception is that the CDC recommends that children get the annual influenza (flu) vaccine every year.
As your kid gets ready to head to middle school, the CDC recommends the following vaccines:
- HPV vaccine
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
- Flu vaccine every flu season
Your teenager should be current on their vaccinations by now. The only thing to worry about is the yearly influenza (flu) vaccine.
The Importance of Back to School Vaccines
You may think that your child has a healthy immune system and doesn’t need all the recommended vaccines. However, vaccines protect more than just your child.
You see, some children with a weak immune system can’t receive vaccines. While your kid may survive chickenpox or measles with few effects, they can pass it to a classmate. That child could die as a result of your decision not to vaccinate your kid.
People with weak immune systems (like those battling cancer or other life-threatening diseases) rely on something called herd immunity to keep them safe.
If enough of the population is vaccinated (at least 93-95%), sick people who can’t get vaccines are protected from preventable diseases. If too many people don’t get vaccines, the entire community is affected because the most vulnerable people get sicker.
Why Does My Child Need the Flu Vaccine Every Year?
Most vaccines provide a lifetime of protection once somebody has received all the booster shots. However, influenza is different.
The influenza virus is always mutating, and there are several different strains. Each flu season, a different strain sweeps through the population. That’s why we need a new flu vaccine every year.
While the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it’s still important to protect as many people as possible.
But the Flu Is Harmless, Right?
There is a common misconception that everybody recovers from the flu, and the vaccine is pointless. The fact is that tens of thousands of people die from flu-related complications every year.
According to the CDC, there are typically 12,000-56,000 flu-related deaths in the United States every year. The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst on record, with 80,000 Americans dying from the flu or complications.
While your child may have a strong enough immune system to fight the flu, they may have a classmate who doesn’t. Also, children under 5 and adults over 65 are the most at risk. Giving your kid the flu vaccine every year could save your other family members.
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Read More About Vaccines
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recommended Vaccines by Age. Accessed on August 14, 2019 at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/vaccines-age.html
- WebMD. What's Herd Immunity, and How Does It Protect Us? Accessed on August 14, 2019 at https://www.webmd.com/vaccines/news/20181130/what-herd-immunity-and-how-does-it-protect-us
- STAT News. CDC: 80,000 people died of flu last winter in U.S., highest death toll in 40 years. Accessed on August 14, 2019 at https://www.statnews.com/2018/09/26/cdc-us-flu-deaths-winter/