The importance of updating your child’s vaccines

Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

With children headed back to school, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) wants to remind parents of the importance of keeping school-aged children up to date on all vaccines.

Childhood vaccines protect against serious but preventable life-threatening diseases. When children are not vaccinated they are at increased risk of contracting and spreading diseases to others–including classmates and family members. Children need certain vaccines to attend school. Children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio. Children starting 6th grade are required to have Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) to attend school as well as other vaccines such as MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) when they are 11 to 12 years old. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children 6 months and older.

Lack of insurance or the inability to pay should not be a barrier to getting children the vaccines they need to protect themselves and those around them. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program at SJBPH provides immunizations to children regardless of ability to pay.

Children who are 0-18 years of age qualify if they are: 1) Medicaid/eligible; 2) Native American/Native Alaskan; 3) Have no health insurance; and 4) Under-insured/meaning that their health insurance does not cover the vaccine or they have reached their vaccine cap. Call SJBPH if you have any questions regarding the VFC program at 970-335-2015.

Parents can find out more about the required school immunizations and recommended schedule at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html. We encourage residents to find out more and ask questions at their primary care provider or San Juan Basin Public Health.

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