Backpacks, lunch boxes, pens, pencils, paper and crayons. While picking up supplies for students, it’s worth remembering that one of the most critical essentials for a healthy school year is up-to-date vaccinations.
Kindergartners, seventh graders, and new and transferring students must provide proof of immunization to enroll in Flagler County Schools. To avoid the back-to-school rush, students can get the shots they need by visiting the Florida Department of Health in Flagler and its free immunization clinic starting next week.
“Vaccinations are the safest and most effective way to protect children and families from the spread of serious infectious diseases,” said Robert Snyder, who heads the Flagler department. “We’re happy to help Flagler students get a healthy start to the school year. We are asking all parents and guardians to make sure immunizations are up-to-date, and bring their students to our back-to-school immunization clinic for whatever boosters they need.”
The health department will offer free immunizations July 15 through August 16, weekdays from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Parents and guardians are asked to bring their child’s immunization record, insurance card, and photo identification. The heath department is at 301 Dr. Carter Boulevard in Bunnell, off of State Road 100 (or Moody Boulevard).
The local health department has been making a push for more vaccine awareness–and more vaccination–in a county plagued by the second-lowest vaccination rate in the state. Local parents are taking advantage of a religious and medical exemption in law to keep their children from being vaccinated. Misinformation about vaccines, and outright false and unsubstantiated claims about vaccines’ supposed harm, have been pushing an increasing number of parents to seek exemptions. In turn, the lower number of vaccinated children is lowering the “herd immunity” that helps prevent outbreaks of certain illnesses. This year’s measles outbreak is an example.
Vaccines help develop immunity to many serious infectious diseases, allowing the body to recognize and fight vaccine-preventable diseases. The following vaccines are required for children entering preschool and grades K-12: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella (chickenpox) and hepatitis B. Students leaving for college or university should check to ensure they follow their school’s immunization requirements.
Immunization requirements include:
Kindergarten – 12th Grade:
• Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (DTaP) – 4 – 5 doses
• Polio (OPV or IPV) – 4 doses (the last one after age 4)
• Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) – 2 doses
• Hepatitis B (HepB) – 3 doses
Kindergarten – 11th Grade:
• Varicella – 2 doses
• Varicella – 1 dose
7th – 12th Grade
• Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (Tdap) Booster – 1 dose
Parents or guardians of middle and high school students should also consider vaccinating their children for Human papillomavirus (HPV), meningitis and Hepatitis A. Studies show that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective in preventing the virus and preventing specific types of cancer in both men and women. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S, with approximately 79 million already infected and 14 million more cases expected each year. Keep in mind: Study after study has shown that there is no association between vaccination for HPV and sexual activity. That linkage is another common misconception. Visit this site for more information.
The Center for Disease Controls (CDC) also recommends that 11 to 12-year old children should be vaccinated for meningitis, with a booster at age 16. This vaccine, a requirement for college students living on campus, is also important for those participating in sports teams.
If you have questions about the clinic or immunizations for your child, please call the Health Department at 386-437-7350, ext. 7095 or ext. 3111.