Parents urged to add vaccines to back-to-school list
By Kristine Voss, epidemiology coordinator for Genesee County Health Department
Back-to-School season is here! It’s time for parents to gather school supplies and back packs. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new daycare, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should also check their child’s vaccine records.
These settings are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children can easily transmit illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, uncovered coughs, dense populations and other factors
“Kids entering 7th, 8th and 12th grades must be up-to-date with the meningococcal vaccine,” said Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans County Public Health. “This is a new requirement from the NYS Department of Health and without it they cannot begin school. Even kids who have had a shot before may need a booster. This is why it is important to check with your child’s doctor now.”
Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by the bacteria called Neisseria meningitides. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, as well as the bloodstream. Such bacteria are spread via the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against these diseases and others.
To celebrate the importance of all immunizations for people of all ages, the Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health Departments are joining partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.
Vaccines protect against a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When children, teens and adults are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions. Talk to your doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended for your child and you!
For more information about the recommended vaccines for each age group, click here.
For information on NYS Immunization Requirements for School Entrance/Attendance, click here: