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Published on August 06, 2015

Back-to-School Immunizations

By Alyssa Kuecker, Avera Health

Each year, the end of summer comes faster than the last. Give yourself some peace of mind and cross one thing off your back-to-school list: your child’s immunizations.

Ashley VanDyke, DO with Family Medicine Physician at Avera Medical Group 69th and Cliff, shares which immunizations are necessary for certain ages as well as common concerns before and after the appointment.

Recommended immunizations per age group

Before kindergarten (ages 4 – 6), your child should receive four vaccines: DTaP prevents tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and diphtheria (bacterial infection); MMR protects against measles, mumps and rubella; varicella wards off chicken pox; and polio vaccine.

Fifth and sixth graders (ages 11 – 12) are recommended three vaccines: Tdap, the booster immunization against tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria; HPV vaccine that prevents several types of cancers; and meningitis vaccine.

Sophomores through seniors (ages 16 – 18) should visit their physician for a meningitis booster.

“Every fall, we recommend that every child should also get a flu shot. Please discuss with your physician if the child has an allergy to eggs, as sometimes this means you cannot have specific types of influenza vaccinations,” VanDyke recommended.

Preparing for the appointment

Before coming to your appointment, make sure the clinic has your child’s past vaccination and health history, especially if your family has recently moved to the area. If you don’t have those records on hand, call your former clinic and ask them to send your child’s files to your new clinic. Expect to sign a release form so your new clinic can access those files.

“Remember, there are many other children coming in for their immunizations,” VanDyke advised. “Plan ahead and schedule an appointment early for vaccinations and school physicals.”

Bring up past health concerns

“Tell the physician whether your child has had a recent illness or is currently ill,” said VanDyke. “Also, it’s very important to mention if he or she has had a reaction from immunizations in the past.”

Other health concerns to discuss with your doctor include allergies (such as an egg allergy), if your child has immunodeficiency concerns, and if your child has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.

“The more details you can provide about your child’s health, the better.”

Health concerns after immunizations

In rare cases, children may have a reaction after immunizations. Common signs include a rash, reddening and/or warmth around the vaccination site. Call your clinic if you notice these or any other unusual symptoms.

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