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Make sure immunizations are on your back-to-school "to do" list

Healthier Together: School Immunizations
Posted at 1:51 PM, Aug 08, 2023

Back-to-school season is the perfect time to think about your child’s immunizations.

"In many ways, they’re the unsung heroes of modern medicine," said Dr. Anthony Dowidowicz, Exec. Medical Director with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.

The doctor says childhood vaccines can be credited with saving millions of lives, but in Utah last fall, about three-quarters of elementary schools did not have the 95-percent vaccination rate desired in kindergarten classes.

"The other phenomenon I see are individuals who aren’t able or who haven’t gotten their children fully vaccinated, or completed the series," said Dowidowicz. "To them, I would encourage to complete that series if possible before the school year starts."

Since their creation, vaccines for things like polio, measles, smallpox, diptheria and tetanus have been able to reduce the threat of these devastating diseases.

"We’ve been able to eradicate, or at least greatly minimize many of the serious communicable childhood diseases around the globe," said the doctor.

But some have recently made a comeback. Between 2020 and 2021, immunization rates for kids dropped significantly.

"The pandemic was a really confusing time for many. There was a lot of misinformation out there particularly in regard to vaccines," Dowidowicz said.

The doctor added that if you’re on the fence to seek the advice from the person with whom you most trust your child’s health with, and consider your parents and their parents, believing they were likely vaccinated. He suggested you check with your local healthcare provider on the recommended immunizations for your child.

"I just really want to encourage parents to protect their children," said Dowidowic. "I know their hearts are certainly in it and they want the best for their kids, so I really encourage them just to do so."