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Check your child's vaccinations before heading back to school | Families

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Check your child's vaccinations before heading back to school
Check your child's vaccinations before heading back to school

Getting ready for back to school means getting school supplies and backpacks, but it's also the perfect time to make sure children are up-to-date on their shots. Getting all of the recommended shots is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their kids' health.

A new survey from the Washington State Department of Health shows vaccination rates are on the rise (71 percent in 2013 versus 65 percent the year before) but are still below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent, leaving many kids unprotected.

Below is a summary of shots children need:

  • Kids age 4-6 are due for boosters of DTaP (diptheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and polio.
  • Children age 7-10 who are not fully immunized against whooping cough (a series of 5 shots before age 7) should receive a single dose now.
  • Preteens and teens need Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MCV (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV.
  • A yearly flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

Did you know that Washington provides all vaccines at no cost for kids through age 18? Although your healthcare provider may charge an office-visit fee and/or and administration fee for the vaccine, families that cannot afford to pay can ask that the fees be waived.

Parents can find out which shots are required to school and child care by visiting here.

“It is important for families to know that kids who aren't fully immunized may be sent home from school, preschool or child care of a disease outbreak occurs,” states Carol Schimke with the Grant County Health District.

In 2011 a new law changed the process for parents or guardians to exempt children from required shots. Parents must fill out and submit an “exemption certificate” that is signed by a healthcare provider verifying the provider shared information on immunization benefits and risks.

If you haven't already, check your child's shot record and schedule a visit to their doctor or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a last minute rush and make sure there are no surprises on the first day back to school.

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