As a new school year nears, URMC Center for Community Health & Prevention’s Dr. Nancy Bennett explains why it’s important to keep students’ vaccinations up to date and how doing so impacts the lives of our kids and the community as a whole.
Following the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health. Diseases can quickly spread among groups of children who aren’t vaccinated.
Vaccines protect against a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox and influenza.
Children who aren’t vaccinated are at higher risk for diseases and can also spread them to others in their classrooms and community—including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions.
Now is the time to make sure your child is up-to-date on their immunizations, following the New York State Department of Health required vaccination schedule as a guideline for children entering grades kindergarten to 12.
These tips can help keep kids’ immunizations up-to-date:
- Talk to your child’s doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended for them before going back to school. The nurse at your local school also can provide guidance on requirements.
- Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their health care professional about Vaccines for Children, a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children who do not otherwise have access to immunization.
- The Vaccines for Children program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian or Alaska Native.
- Local health departments also offer free immunization clinics. The Monroe County Department of Public Health publishes its clinic information to provide access to vaccines to both adults and children.
Nancy M. Bennett, M.D., is director of the Center for Community Health & Prevention at URMC and the chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.