Yes, back-to-school supplies have appeared in stores and school starts soon. Now is the time to go over the checklist and make sure kids are ready for school. One very important item is making sure everyone in your family is up to date on immunizations.
News about pertussis (whooping cough) and measles outbreaks in our state remind us that vaccine-preventable diseases still are around. These contagious diseases can pose serious health threats, ranging from a fever or severe cough to brain inflammation or, rarely, death. Especially at risk are the medically vulnerable and very young children. Immunizations prevent or lessen the effects of these and other common communicable diseases. This creates something called “community immunity.” When enough people in a community are immunized and protected against contagious disease there is less opportunity for an outbreak or spread of contagious diseases such as influenza, measles and mumps. This is another example of how community collaboration helps Thurston County thrive.
Prior to each school year, schools in Washington state require written proof of immunization or a physician-signed waiver. Required immunizations for the 2014-15 school year include:
• Hepatitis B
• DTaP/DT/Td/Tdap — protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis
• MMR — measles, mumps and rubella
• Varicella — or verification the child has had the disease (chicken pox)
In addition, a yearly seasonal influenza immunization is recommended for all children starting at six months old. Do not forget adults in the home. It is recommended that all adults receive an annual influenza vaccination and a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) booster every 10 years.
The best place for children to receive immunizations is at their routine health care provider’s office. There, children can receive important well-child screening, preventive education, and sports physicals. If this is not an option, there are other opportunities for immunizations.
• Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps and Group Health Olympia Medical Center will offer a no-cost clinic for school-required immunizations and influenza vaccination on Sept. 20. The clinic will be at Group Health Olympia, 700 Lilly Road NE, from 9:00 a.m. until noon. For more information, please visit the Thurston County Health Department website at:co.thurston.wa.us/
• Several pharmacies in our community offer immunizations. Details vary so inquire ahead of time regarding cost, insurance, which vaccines are available and the ages of children that they will vaccinate.
This month, Thurston County Board of Health and Thurston Thrives Advisory Committee looked at strategies to boost the health value of health care. This includes working to help residents get the right care at the right time and place. The Clinical Care Action Team found the Affordable Care Act prioritizes preventive care, with health plans and providers covering recommended immunizations. We look forward to even more collaboration between providers and public health on immunizations. Thurston Thrives when we have this kind of community collaboration. Please make sure everyone in your family is fully immunized. This is one important way you can help your family be prepared and safe this school year.
Dr. Rachel C. Wood: 360-867-2501