Health Team

Children prepare for school with vaccinations

Posted August 7, 2008 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated August 7, 2008 6:30 p.m. EDT

— The start of school may also mean time for new immunizations especially for children entering 6th grade.

When a child begins kindergarten, schools require immunization records for 10 different diseases.

Children who turn 12-year-old on or after Aug. 1 are now required by the state to get the Tdap vaccine, a combination booster that protects against Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (whooping cough).

Amy Caruso, of the State Immunization Branch says 6th graders are at the age where their Tdap vaccine from kindergarten may no longer be effective. With whooping cough on a comeback, it's a good group to target for prevention.

“They won't get it again and they won't transmit it to other folks,” Caruso said.

With the new immunization requirement, Wilson County health and school officials have made a special effort to notify parents and bring vaccines to them. Vaccinations were administered at a shopping center in Wilson during the recent tax-free weekend.

Joyce Wetherington, of the Wilson County Health Department, said the decision to offer vaccinations at the shopping center was an effort to make it more convenient for children to get their shots.

Katie Weppler, 11, said she always gets a sick feeling went it comes to shots.

“I don't generally like shots, but it wasn't as bad as I expected,” Katie said after getting her Tdap shot.

Incoming 6th grader, Ian West, 11, also got his shot at the shopping center. Ian described it as “short and not really that painful.”

For kindergarten students this year a new requirement requires children have two doses of the mumps vaccine instead of one. Also starting this fall, students entering their freshman year of college are required to take two doses of mumps and the Tdap vaccine if it's been more than 10 years since their last tetanus shot.

Parents are urged to call a child's pediatrician if there are any questions about what vaccinations a child needs. A small amount is usually charged for the shots, but county health departments don't charge for vaccines required for school.