Back-to-school season is here. It’s a time for parents to gather school supplies, backpacks and to make sure your kids are up-to-date on their immunizations and vaccines.
Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC is one of the most important things parents can do to help protect their children’s health, family, classmates and community. Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling to protect the health of all students.
Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox.
“Thanks to vaccines, most of these diseases have become rare in the United States,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC. “But many still exist here, and they can make children very sick, leading to many days of missed school, missed work for parents, and even hospitalization and death.”
2017 Minnesota Measles Outbreak
Last year, Minnesota had its largest measles outbreak since 1991. There were 75 cases between April and August 2017 compared to an average of 1-4 cases. This outbreak included 21 hospitalizations where 91% of those who contracted measles were not vaccinated.
“Stopping the 2017 measles outbreak did not eliminate our risk for another outbreak,” said MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann. “We still have pockets of our population with low vaccination rates, so as long as there is measles somewhere in the world, the risk to Minnesota remains. That’s why it is so important to make sure you and your family are vaccinated.”
Measles is a very contagious and serious disease with common symptoms of running a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. The high fever usually triggers a rash two to three days later that first covers the head and then the rest of the body.
The measles vaccine is recommended when babies are 12-15 months old and again at 4-6 years old. An early MMR vaccine is recommended for babies age 6-12 months old if they will be traveling a country where measles is common.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk of disease and can 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 and other health conditions.
Kids – Age 4 to 6 years old Vaccine Boosters
Kids who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines:
- DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, also called whooping cough)
- MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
Pre-teens and Teens Vaccine Recommendations
Older children, like pre-teens and teens, need:
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate virus) vaccines
In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children 6 months and older.
Free or Low Cost Shots for Children
The Minnesota Vaccines for ChIldren (MnFVC) Program helps ensure children are vaccinated on time and to break down the barrier of cost that may prevent or delay parents and guardians from getting their children protected. The MnFVC PRogram offers free or low-cost vaccines children 18 years of age and younger.
Check with your child’s provider to find out what vaccines they need this year.