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Back-to-school vaccines for your kids

Posted at 2:11 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 16:11:36-04

As school starts back up it’s a good time for parents to review their child’s immunization record. Depending on your child’s age, there may be additional vaccines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends.

Smith’s Pharmacist, Jaime Montuoro, stressed the importance of vaccines because they not only protect the individual receiving the vaccine but they also protect the most vulnerable in our communities, including young infants and others who, for whatever reason, cannot be vaccinated and are unprotected.

What vaccines do kids need going back to school:
For kindergarten, required vaccines are those which are administered according to the CDC’s schedule for children starting at 2 months of age. Then, at age 11-12 years old, when kids enter 7th grade, there are 3 additional vaccines they should receive: Tdap, (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), HPV (human papilloma virus) and meningococcal conjugate vaccine. After 7th grade entry, one additional vaccine – serogroup B meningococcal vaccine – is recommended at age 16.

Tdap vaccine:
Children are vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) as babies, but as they get older immunity starts to wear off and a booster dose is needed at the 11–12-year-old mark. Tetanus protects against infection caused by bacteria that may enter the body through cuts in the skin. Diphtheria and Pertussis is spread airborne from coughing or sneezing.

Meningococcal vaccines:
Children should also receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine at 11-12 years of age, followed by a slightly different meningococcal vaccine (serogroup B) at the age of 16. These vaccines help protect the body against bacteria which can infect the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord. This is known as meningitis.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV):
The human papillomavirus or HPV vaccine protects against infections that can cause a range of cancers in both males and females. Depending on when the vaccine series is started it requires either 2 or 3 doses to be complete. Starting early – before the age of 15 – is best so that only 2 doses are required.

Should school aged children receive COVID-19 vaccine:
According to Jaime, YES, kids should receive the vaccine. Kids can be infected with COVID-19, they can get sick and they can spread it to others. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and very effective. Kids age 12 and up should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Just as in adults, the vaccine will help prevent severe illness if your child is infected with COVID-19 after being vaccinated.

Smith’s Pharmacists can administer all of the required immunizations. Stop by your local Smith’s Pharmacy and speak with the pharmacist, or visit their website: smithsfoodanddrug.com and click on the pharmacy link.