Backpack? Check. New school supplies? Check. New clothes and shoes? Check. Up to date on immunizations?
Did you know certain vaccines are required for entry into school or child care? The reason for this requirement is that when children attend school, they learn to interact and socialize, in addition to learning facts and figures. Some of what they share with each other might be germs that can make them very ill.
For older Americans, we remember the days when we or our friends had measles, whooping cough, even polio. Chicken pox once was very common among kids, but is not seen much any more. The reason is that, through the years, vaccines have changed the landscape for diseases. They are an effective way to decrease the burden of diseases in a population.
So why do we still need vaccines when there are so few cases of these diseases now? Though we rarely see these diseases in the United States, we do see them when people return from travel overseas.
Keeping your immunizations current protects you whenever you encounter these germs. In order to protect our communities, enough of us need to have immunity so that diseases will not take hold in our area and cause epidemics.
As we send our kids back to school, we need to make sure that they are as prepared as possible. The Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps, Group Health Cooperative and the Thurston County Public Health Department are teaming up to provide a no-cost, back-to-school immunization clinic for Thurston County students entering pre-school through eighth grade. This service is provided to address the needs of schoolchildren who might not have access to a regular medical provider for their immunizations.
Immunizations generally are available at local pharmacies for patients who are older than 14.
The clinic will be at Group Health’s Olympia clinic at 700 Lilly Road N.E. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. A parent or legal guardian must accompany children. Please bring immunization records and any available insurance information. No one will be denied services because of lack of insurance.
For more information about this clinic, call 360-709-3080 or go to co.thurston.wa.us/health and, under the Hot Topics &News heading, select Back to School Clinic.
Dr. Diana T. Yu is the Health Officer for Thurston and Mason counties. Reach her at 360-867-2501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.