Back-to-school vaccinations may protect whole family
Dr. Carol Baker, a pediatric infectious disease specialist from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, recommends vaccinating children to not only protect them while at school but to protect the entire family from infections.
"Children from kindergarten to 18 years old are the disease spreaders, but not necessarily the ones that will become hospitalized or die from diseases," said Baker, who is a professor of pediatrics infectious disease and of molecular virology and microbiology at BCM and director of the Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research at Texas Children's Hospital, in a press release. "They may impact the rest of the family very seriously."
Vaccinations can prevent catching many illnesses beyond just the flu, according to the press release. Some of those serious diseases that children and their families should be protected from include whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis.
Children may be exposed to an illness while at school and spread it to other family members who may be more vulnerable and develop more serious symptoms. Those more susceptible to illnesses include siblings younger than 5 years old who have not been vaccinated yet, pregnant mothers, elderly grandparents or family members with a compromised immune system from other illnesses, according to the release.
"Children under 2 are at a greater risk of being hospitalized or even dying from these diseases," Baker said in the release.
She recommends keeping updated with resources and vaccination schedules by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
Other tips from Baker regarding vaccinations include getting an annual flu vaccine for everyone older than 6 months old. Also, children from 4 to 6 years old should get a DTaP vaccine, especially prior to entering kindergarten.
Meningococcal and Tdap vaccines should be given to all children between the ages of 11 and 12 also per Texas state law. At that time, it is also recommended that children receive an HPV vaccine.
Multiple vaccines can be given during the same visit to the doctor and still be safe and effective, according to Baker. She suggests that parents consult their child's pediatrician regarding questions or concerns about vaccinations.
"Parents have to protect their children and the loved ones around them," she said in the release. "With vaccines, we can provide the best protection against serious and fatal diseases."
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