As parents prepare to send their children back to school, there’s a lot to remember and little time to get everything done. One item you don’t want to put off are the vaccinations your children need.
Health care providers are typically overcome by appointment requests from parents who wait until the last minute to get vaccinations for incoming kindergartners or older kids who need their next round of immunizations.
Vaccines have almost completely wiped out several serious childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough, smallpox, polio, diphtheria and haemophilus infections. Yet people who don’t get vaccinated are believed to be the most likely cause behind a steady increase in the rate of measles outbreaks in the U.S.
The good news is that, according to the most recent figures from the Colorado health department, more than 90 percent of students got their required shots last year. The state’s immunization rate had been one of the lowest in the nation, but tighter requirements for opting out of vaccinations helped improve the rate.
The rules now require parents seeking non-medical exemptions from school and child-care vaccine requirements to submit them at each point when recommended vaccines are due for pre-kindergartners and every year from kindergarten through 12th grade.
What follows is a quick FAQ on vaccines that employers can share with their employees:
What, Exactly, Is a Vaccine?
Vaccines contain killed or weakened disease organisms (typically inactive bacteria or weakened viruses) that are administered to protect against serious diseases. Vaccines cause the body to produce antibodies, which are special agents of the immune system, to attack harmful elements inside the body. While fighting the disease organism, the antibodies learn to recognize it so they can attack it when the body is exposed to it later.
Vaccines are usually administered in one of two ways: orally or through an injection. Doctors have found that orally administered vaccines tend to have a higher chance of side effects or allergic reactions than injected vaccines.
Overall, vaccines are safe to administer and typically only cause minor side effects. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the risk of contracting a disease is much more dangerous than the risk of a serious reaction to a vaccination.
Why Should I Vaccinate My Child?
Prevention is always better than treatment. Experts recommend that all children be routinely vaccinated. Vaccines are responsible for controlling many infectious diseases that at one time were common and deadly. Scientists, doctors and other health care professionals extensively test the vaccines to make sure they are safe and effective. In the U.S., the FDA reviews all the test results and then decides whether to approve a vaccine for use.
Which Vaccines Should My Kids Get?
There are 16 vaccinations in all that are recommended for children, helping to protect them against diseases such as measles, whooping cough and the mumps.
Beyond those, all preteens and teens need a flu vaccine every year.
In addition to an annual flu vaccine, three vaccines are recommended specifically for preteens:
Why Do Some People Still Think Vaccines are Dangerous?
One of the leading medical journals ran an article about 20 years ago based on a study claiming to show a link between vaccines and autism. The study was found to be a fraud, and many studies from around the world have since shown conclusively there is no link between vaccines and autism.
Moreover, every major scientific and medical organization has evaluated the evidence and concluded that vaccines only very rarely cause side effects and that the benefit of protecting children from disease far outweigh any risk.
Scott McGraw is Vice President of CCIG’s Employee Benefits division. He can be reached at 720-330-7924 or ScottM@thinkccig.com.
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