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    August is National Immunization Awareness Month, making it the perfect time for parents to familiarize themselves with vaccination requirements before their children return to school. Many vaccine-preventable illnesses are spread from person to person by direct contact as well as through air.  Children are in close contact at school and often share desks and supplies, providing ideal conditions for pathogens like bacteria and viruses to spread to a large group in a short period. 


    Proper hygiene, like frequent handwashing and sanitization of common surfaces, can reduce the spread of germs and illness.  It is also vital for children to be vaccinated before they are exposed so their immune systems are prepared to fight off infection. Vaccination not only helps to protect the person being vaccinated, but also protects others in the community from serious, sometimes life-threatening diseases.  


    Immunization records are required for school registration, child care, and participation on athletic teams.  When registering children for school or activities, you must follow state laws which establish vaccination requirements for school children in public and private settings and daycare facilities. You can find information about immunization requirements and exemptions on your state’s Department of Health website or the Immunization Action Coalition website.  


    Follow the CDC’s immunization schedules to protect your child and ensure compliance with state laws. Below is a summary of recommended immunizations by school age. For children whose vaccinations were missed or delayed, the CDC provides catch-up schedules and interval guidance for healthcare professionals to bring patients up-to-date.


    Birth/Elementary school (to age 6)


    • Hepatitis B (Hep B) – 3 dose series

    • Rotavirus (RV) – 2 doses for RV1 series or 3 doses for RV5 series

    • Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) – 5 dose series

    • Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) – 3 or 4 dose series

    • Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13, PCV15) – 4 dose series

    • Inactivated poliovirus (IPV) 4 dose series

    • Covid-19 (1vCOV-mRNA, 2vCOV-mRNA, 1vCOV-aPS) - 2 or 3 dose primary series and booster

    • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) – 2 dose series

    • Varicella – 2 dose series

    • Hepatitis A (Hep A) – 2 dose series

    • Influenza (flu) – Yearly, starting at age 6 months. Remember that 2 doses of the influenza vaccine are given at least 4 weeks apart for children aged 6 months to 8 years who are getting the immunization for the first time. 


    Elementary/Middle School (ages 7 to 15) 


    • Influenza (flu) – Yearly

    • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) – 1 dose at age 11-12

    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – 2 dose series at age 11-12

    • Meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) – 1 dose at age 11-12 


    High School (ages 16-18)


    • Influenza (flu) – Yearly

    • Meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) – Booster at age 16

    • Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) – Optional, based on shared clinical decision-making.  A 2 or 3 dose series, depending on the product used.  Age 16 – 23 (16-18 years preferred).  


    Summer injuries and Tetanus

    With the arrival of summer, many children and adults engage in outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and biking. While the great outdoors provides hours of excitement during warmer months, exploring outside can also bring injuries that expose you or your family to a tetanus infection. 


    Tetanus is a serious infection caused by the spores of Clostridium tetani bacteria. When someone experiences an infection, these spores enter the body through open wounds, typically from dirty scrapes or puncture wounds that become contaminated. Tetanus spores thrive in environments lacking oxygen, making deep or dirty wounds highly susceptible to infection. 

    Clostridium tetani bacteria produce toxins that cause painful muscle contractions. Tetanus is often called lockjaw because it can cause your neck and jaw muscles to spasm and stiffen. It can also cause seizures, fever, sweating, and headaches. If untreated, a tetanus infection can be life-threatening, with 1 to 2 in 10 cases being fatal.


    The best way to protect against tetanus is through vaccination. There are four vaccines available to help protect against tetanus.  They also protect against other diseases:


    • DTaP protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)

    • DT protects against diphtheria and tetanus

    • Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis

    • Td protects against tetanus and diphtheria


    The vaccine recommended for someone depends on their age.



    Babies and young children should get five shots of DTaP between the ages of 2 months and 6 years. Children 6 years old and younger who should not get whooping cough vaccines can receive DT for protection against diphtheria and tetanus.


    Preteens should get one shot of Tdap between the ages of 11 and 12 years. All adults who have never received one should get a shot of Tdap. This can be given at any time, regardless of when they last got Td. This should be followed by either a Td or Tdap shot every 10 years.