Vt. Dept. of Health: Start of school year a good time for updating vaccinations


BENNINGTON -- According to the Vermont Department of Health, back-to-school season is the perfect time to make sure children are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

This announcement from the Department of Health comes as part of National Immunization Awareness Month: "Your child should have all of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions immunization schedule to protect classmates and the community," said the Vt. Dept. of Health's immunization program chief Christine Finley. "Check with your doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs."

Children in Vermont who attend childcare facilities, public or independent pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, elementary, secondary schools, and post-secondary schools are required to be up-to-date with their vaccinations before attending school, with a few exceptions, according to Vt. Dept. of Health immunization regulations. Those exceptions are for children whose doctors believe a specific vaccine would be detrimental to their health, or children whose parents or guardians hold a religious belief or philosophical conviction against immunization. The parents or guardians of the latter must provide a yearly signed statement to the school or childcare facility, indicating the reason for their objection and that they have reviewed all the required educational materials provided by the Dept. of Health.

According to the Department of Health, children who are not vaccinated, "are at increased risk, and can spread diseases to others -- including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions."

Children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP to protect against tetanus and pertussis, chickenpox vaccine, MMR to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella), and polio vaccine. Older children are required to get the Tdap vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and students who are living in residence at their schools also require the meningococcal vaccine. Human papillomavirus vaccine is not required for entry to schools, but is recommended for children between the ages of 11 and 12. The Dept. of Health also recommends annual flu vaccines for children over six months.

However, it is not only children who should be getting vaccinated, according to the Dept. of Health, but young adults as well. "Every year," reads a release for the department, "thousands of young adults in the U.S. suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines."

"We need to remind young adults to get vaccinated and make sure they are protected against diseases like flu, whooping cough, and HPV," said Finley.

For those looking for more information on the subject, the Dept. of Health recommends checking its website at healthvermont.gov or the Center for Disease Control's page at cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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