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For Release: July 1, 2010
Contact: Pamela Williams 
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

“Back-To-School” Immunizations

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reminds you that now is the best time to check your child’s immunization record and schedule a visit with your health care provider or local county health department to obtain any vaccinations needed for school. This is the best time because clinics only get busier as the start of the school year gets closer. The demand for vaccine turns into a rush every year before school starts mainly because of the boosters due for children entering kindergarten.

Children in kindergarten through the twelfth grade are required to have the primary series of the following vaccines: DTaP (4 doses), polio (3 doses), MMR (1 dose), hepatitis B (3 doses), hepatitis A (2 doses) and varicella (1 dose) and booster doses of DTaP and polio vaccines and a second dose of MMR. A second dose of varicella vaccine is also recommended at 4 to 6 years of age, but is not required in Oklahoma.

If a child is behind with his or her vaccinations, they can catch up. Children can start school as long as they are in the process of complying with the requirements. Parents of children who haven’t completed the required series and boosters should obtain a schedule from their doctor or clinic that shows the dates when they will receive the rest of the doses. Parents can then take the schedule to the school, but the children must be started on the series.

College students in Oklahoma are also required to present vaccination records. All college students are required to have MMR and hepatitis B vaccines and first-time college enrollees who will live on campus are also required to have the meningococcal vaccine. The college requirements do not apply to students enrolling only in courses delivered via the Internet or through distance learning in which the student is not required to attend class on campus.

Vaccines are also strongly recommended for adolescents and teenagers, although these vaccines are not required for school. Three vaccines are recommended for all adolescents at 11 to 12 years of age and all teens 13 through 18 years who have not yet received the vaccines:

• Meningococcal vaccine to protect against 4 types of meningitis as the risk for this disease increases between ages 15 and 24 years
• Tdap vaccine, a booster against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, as immunity decreases over time
• Human papillomavirus vaccine to protect against viruses that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts in the U.S.
• A second dose of varicella vaccine for the best protection

These vaccines are available at county health departments, Indian Health Service and tribal clinics, and many private physicians through the Vaccines for Children Program. Adolescents and teens are eligible for this program through their 18th year if they have no health insurance, or are eligible for SoonerCare (Oklahoma’s Medicaid program), or are Native American or Alaskan Native, or if their health insurance does not cover vaccines or does not cover a particular vaccine.  However, once teens reach 19 years of age, they are no longer eligible for the Vaccines for Children program.

“Summer is a good time to check the vaccination records of everyone in your family. All adults need tetanus and diphtheria boosters every ten years,” said Dr. Lynn Mitchell, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Commissioner for Prevention and Preparedness Services.  “So parents, check your records too, and get the vaccines you need along with those for your children. Kids may be less resistant to shots when they know grown-ups have to get shots too.”

If you have any questions about back-to-school vaccinations, check with your health care provider, call your county health department, or the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Immunization Service at (405) 271-4073.

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