It’s National Immunization Awareness Month and state health officials are reminding parents there are some new requirements for school children. Heather Stafford, director of the Division of Immunizations, says students in the seventh grade, or age 11 to 12, will now need a TDAP, or Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis booster and a meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
Stafford says students in all grades need to be sure they’ve had three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine and a second dose of the mumps and chicken pox vaccines.
Stafford says there’s a “grace” period. She says they allow an eight month provisional period for students to become compliant.
Stafford says if you have health insurance, work with your family physician or pediatrician to make sure school children are up-to-date. For those who lack sufficient insurance, there are state health centers where children can be vaccinated at no cost.
Stafford says there are many vaccine-preventable diseases and parents of pre-schoolers and infants should make sure they’re up-to-date on their immunizations. Adults should also be current on all of their shots. Some to consider for children and adults include the rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine for infants and adults and a vaccine to protect older adults from shingles. One type of meningitis vaccine, Menactra, has now been approved for use in children as young as 9 months. Influenza vaccines are recommended for everyone age 6 months and up.
Adults who need to get a tetanus booster should are now being advised to consider the TDAP instead. Stafford says this helps prevent the spread of pertussis.