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Child immunizations critical to public health

by Marc Stewart, Heritage Health
| August 12, 2021 1:00 AM

The new school year is right around the corner. Parents, teachers and students are hoping for a more traditional year.

However, with all of the focus on COVID-19, less attention has been paid to the other vaccines children need to attend school.

“It is still very important to stay on track with routine immunizations to prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Nicole Odom. “Parents should be scheduling those now if they haven’t already.”

Parents must comply with Idaho immunization laws in order to have their children to attend school. Idaho requires vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, hepatitis A and varicella. Children typically receive a series of vaccinations from birth to two and a half years of age and then again when they turn four years old.

“Children need to be protected before they enter school and generally need a booster shot,” said Odom. “There has been a decline in routine well checks for children during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent delays in vaccines that are routinely provided at these visits.”

Odom recommends parents schedule well checks and immunizations as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush. In addition to immunizations, students should remember good hygiene goes a long way to stop the spread of COVID.

“To prevent COVID-19 and other diseases, including colds and the fl u, children should be encouraged to wash their hands, practice good hygiene and cover all coughs and sneezes,” said Odom. “If a child is sick, please keep them home and do not expose the school community.”

Diseases long thought conquered could be making a comeback if people don’t get immunized.

“A drop in community vaccination rates can decrease herd immunity and lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases,” says Odom. “And the last thing I think anyone wants right now is another outbreak of any kind.”

Children ages 12 and older are now able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and parents should have confidence that their children will be just fine,” said Odom.

To schedule an appointment call (208) 620-5250.