COLUMBUS — As the summer begins to wind down, it is time for parents to begin thinking about preparing to send their children back to school. Along with remembering school staples such as folders and back packs, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) wants to remind parents to get their children immunized for vaccine-preventable diseases before the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
To emphasize the importance of immunizations for everyone, and to make sure that children in particular are protected with all of the immunizations they need, ODH is joining the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.
“When parents are thinking about their back-to-school checklists, vaccines should be at the top of the list,” said ODH State Epidemiologist and Bureau Chief of Infectious Diseases Sietske de Fijter. “Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health as well as the health of classmates and the community,” she said.
Unvaccinated children are at increased risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, mumps and rubella. If children get vaccine-preventable diseases, they can easily spread those diseases to high-risk infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated and individuals who have weakened immune systems due to other health conditions.
Parents of adolescents should remember that Ohio Law requires the ACWY meningococcal vaccine for all incoming seventh and 12th grade students. All incoming seventh graders must have one dose of the ACWY meningococcal vaccine, and all incoming 12th graders must have a second dose of the vaccine. CDC also recommends the meningococcal B vaccine as a permissive recommendation for anyone 16 through 23 years of age to provide protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease as a permissive recommendation.
More information on meningococcal vaccine requirements can be found on the immunization page of the ODH website at www.odh.ohio.gov.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio Chapter (Ohio AAP) and ODH suggest parents download the free “Fast Vax Facts” app, available in the App Store and on Google Play. “Fast Vax Facts” is an app featuring valuable, pediatrician-approved immunization resources for parents and guardians. A link to the App can be found at www.OhioAAP.org/FVF.