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ImmunizationsBack-to-School Health in North Austin: Immunizations

You know it’s back-to-school time when you start to see stores drag out paper, pencils, backpacks, and notebooks. Some traditions that we do before school starts can be fun: shopping for clothes, getting a haircut, buying new supplies. But what about immunizations?

Most parents concerned with Family Health in North Austin know about the flu vaccination, but children are supposed to get other shots throughout their life. Schools will not enroll kids without up-to-date medical records. They are a must for a child to be in a public school, so you should probably understand what these vaccinations are used to fight.

Within the first few years of a baby’s life, he or she will receive up to 15 vaccinations. You would think that would be enough for a lifetime, but it is not. For children just starting school, they will need to have their up-to-date round of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP), polio, MMR, and varicella vaccines. The MMR vaccine helps to fight agains measles, mumps and rubella and the varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox. If your child needs it, the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) defends against bacterial infection that can be spread through close contact, causing ear infections, pneumonia or even meningitis. Your doctor can determine whether or not this is needed. Other shots that should be given on a case-by-case basis are HepA and the meningococcal vaccine (MCV).

As children get into the “tween” years (ages 11 & 12), their needs become different, but some of the vaccinations stay the same. One dose of the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular peruses vaccine (Tdap) is recommended. This is a three-in-one dosage that includes protection against diphtheria, a condition that causes a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat making it difficult to breathe or swallow, and pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

Another recommendation is the Meningococcal vaccine (MCV4). It helps defend the body from four different types of meningococcal diseases, which are bacterial infections that rarely happen, but are serious when they do occur. It involves the infection entering the body and causes the lining of the brain and spinal cord to swell.

The other common shot to give to your adolescent is for Hepatitis B.  A much more controversial vaccination, however is the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. This is a set of three shots given over a six-month period. It has become a hot topic for debate because HPV is transmitted through sexual contact. Many people believe that giving a girl this type of shot is unnecessary and could give permission for promiscuity. Others see it as a way to prevent future issues that could occur if the vaccination is not administered. There are only two vaccines available: Cervarix and Gardasil. Gardisil is also known to protect agains genital warts.

The HPV is not just recommended for girls between ages 11-12. Teen age girls and other females up to age 26 are able to get the vaccination if they did not receive any or all of their shots earlier in life.

Having mandatory vaccinations for children has been a heated discussion for decades. Consult your doctor and express your concerns when discussing your child’s health and these vaccines.

Website: North Austin Family Health

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