Today: What to know about back-to-school vaccinations

13 08 2012
By Susan E. Matthews

updated 8/10/2012 1:29:48 PM ET

Back-to-school time means shopping for school or dorm room supplies, picking classes and savoring summer’s waning days. But getting vaccinations is another item that should be on the to-do list.

Though people may consider vaccinations to be something only young kids need, there are vaccines that are recommended for older kids and teens, as well as adults. Keeping up with vaccinations is a healthy choice, experts say.

“Vaccinations are a victim of their own success,” said Dr. Peter Wenger, an associate professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School. Because the shots have greatly reduced or eliminated so many cases of diseases, people assume they don’t need them anymore.

“Just because you don’t see the disease, doesn’t mean that the agent isn’t out there,” Wenger said.

While the flu shot is the only vaccination that every person should get annually, other vaccinations are needed are on a less-often schedule. Primary care physicians can help out with monitoring, Wenger said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides complete lists of which vaccines kids and adults need, but here’s a quick guide.

Kids age 6 and under

There’s a reason vaccinations are thought to be a “kid thing,” and that’s because many shots are recommended for babies and young children.

Young children should be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella with the MMR vaccine. The IPV vaccine protects against polio, and the DTaP vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).

Additionally, young kids should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, the chicken pox, rotavirus and pneumonia (the PCV vaccine).

Young children should also receive the hib vaccine, which protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b. This vaccine is only for children, because the risk of the disease disappears after age 5, Wenger said.

And children should get their flu shot on a yearly basis.

(Full Story)

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