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For Release: June 6, 2013 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications - 405/271-5601
It’s Not Too Early to Get Immunizations for Next School Year
Now is the time for parents to check records and schedule appointments for their children entering kindergarten or the 7th grade to receive any needed back-to-school vaccines? According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Immunization Service, June is the best time to schedule a visit to your health care provider or your local county health department to skip the long lines that can form in clinics and health care provider offices in July and August.
“School immunizations help protect all children from dangerous diseases. We rarely see outbreaks of preventable diseases in schools because thousands of parents have made sure their children are safe by making sure they have these effective vaccines,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.
Most children entering kindergarten will need the following required vaccines:
A second dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is also recommended at this age.
Parents of children who have moved here from other states should check their children’s records for hepatitis A vaccination, which is required for students in all grades in Oklahoma.
Students who will enter the 7th grade are required to have a Tdap booster. Teens in the 8th and 9th grades must also have one dose of Tdap if they have not received it already. Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), which continues to circulate in Oklahoma causing serious illness in babies and toddlers. One death from whooping cough has been reported in Oklahoma this year.
Parents may also want to check their own records, as a booster of Td (tetanus and diphtheria) is recommended for all adults every 10 years. Tdap should be given to replace one dose of Td. Tdap is strongly recommended for older teens in grades 10th through 12th who have not received a dose. Vaccinating teens and adults with Tdap helps to protect babies they may be around.
The OSDH also encourages parents to consider the following two vaccines for their preteens and teens:
HPV protects against most of the cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a very common virus that spreads between people when they have sexual contact with another person. About six million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. Most people will be infected with HPV at some time in their lives. Years later, HPV infection can cause cervical cancer in women and other serious and deadly cancers in men and women.
Preteens and teens should get all three doses of HPV vaccine long before their first sexual contact, so they will be protected from the virus if they are ever exposed in the future. This is also the age when the vaccine will work the best since preteens have a better immune response from the vaccine than older teens.
The MCV4 shot is the best way to protect teens from getting meningococcal disease. MCV4 protects against four types of meningococcal disease, an infection that doesn’t happen often, but can very quickly become quite serious. Meningococcal meningitis can cause brain damage, hearing loss, and learning problems. The meningococcal bacteria can also cause an infection in the blood. This infection can lead to the loss of an arm, leg or other parts of the body. Even with the best treatment, about one in 10 persons with meningococcal disease will die from it. Teens are at higher risk of getting meningococcal disease. The first dose is recommended at age 11 or 12 followed by a booster (second shot) at age 16-18.
All of the vaccines required for school are available for all children and teens, 18 years of age and younger, at county health departments and other public clinics. However, parents of children with private health insurance or SoonerCare health insurance are encouraged to take their children to their regular health care provider or clinic to receive these vaccines. Local county health departments do not have funding to provide MCV4 or HPV to teens that have health insurance.
For more information on back-to-school vaccinations, contact your local county health department, health care provider, or visit www.health.ok.gov.
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