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Add Immunization Updates to Your Back-to-School To-Do List

immunization vaccine shot

Preparing for the new school year means shopping for supplies and getting your household back into the school routine. It’s also the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines (also called immunizations).

The State of Wisconsin requires that all children are vaccinated before entering school or a licensed day care center.

Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s overall health. In countries with high vaccination rates, deadly diseases like polio, tetanus and diphtheria are rare.

Why Vaccinate?
Vaccinations not only protect your child from deadly diseases, they also keep other children safe by eliminating or greatly decreasing dangerous diseases that used to spread from child to child.

Vaccines work by exposing children to a piece of the germ, a killed version of the germ or a version of the germ that is so weak that it can’t cause disease. As a result, their bodies can naturally build up their own antibodies.

Antibodies are a part of the immune system (the body’s germ-fighting machine). Building up antibodies by vaccination can protect children from getting a disease if they are exposed to it at a later time.

Children under age five are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection. By immunizing per the recommendations, you can protect your child from disease and also protect others at school or daycare.

Are Immunizations Safe?
Yes. All vaccines are fully tested before being approved by the FDA. In addition, several agencies around the country continually monitor vaccine safety even after FDA approval. No other medication receives such intense review.

Can My Child Have a Reaction?
As with any medication, there is a chance that you can have a reaction to the vaccine. This usually consists of tenderness at the injection site, irritability or low-grade fever.

Side effects are usually mild and short lived. If your child is uncomfortable, you may apply cool compresses to the sore area or give them a pain reliever like ibuprofen to help reduce the fever and swelling, as directed by your doctor. Rest is also always helpful. Your doctor should provide you with information about each vaccine and possible side effects.

The chance of allergic reactions to vaccines is very rare, but make sure your health care provider knows about any allergies that your child may have.  The risk of a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction is less than one in a million.

Recommended Vaccines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend a vaccine schedule for the following diseases beginning at birth:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Influenza (flu) annually
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal Disease
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Tetanus
  • Varicella (chickenpox)

For preteens and teenagers, your child should visit the doctor once a year for check-ups. Check with your doctor about catching up on any missed vaccinations. Your doctor will also recommend the following vaccinations, along with booster doses of childhood vaccines:

  • Meningococcal (MCV)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine

How Do I Know what Immunizations My Child has Received?
Keeping track of your child’s immunizations is now easier than ever. Most doctors’ offices submit every vaccination your child has received to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry. If you need a copy of your child’s immunization records, they are available online or by calling your child’s doctor.

Baby on Board?
To protect your new baby and yourself against whooping cough, get a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy. Mothers should also get an influenza vaccine (flu shot) during the flu season to protect themselves and their babies. Speak with other family members about ensuring their vaccines are up-to-date as well. Talk to your doctor for more details.

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