MAYVILLE - One of the most important things you can do to prepare your children for school is to get them vaccinated against serious childhood diseases like measles and whooping cough.
In recent years, several immunization requirements and recommendations have been introduced. Keep your child's vaccinations up to date.
"Children of every age need to update their vaccinations whether they will be in day care, preschool, kindergarten, high school or college," said Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Public Health Director.
"If your child has fallen behind, or started getting vaccinated later than other children, ask your doctor for the 'catch-up' schedule. Health clinics and doctors' offices are especially busy during the last few weeks of August, so it's smart to make an appointment with your health care provider as early as possible," she said.
Recent updates to immunization requirements and recommendations include the following:
Children born on or after Jan. 1, 2008, who are entering a child-care program need to be immunized against pneumococcal disease.
Children born on or after Jan. 1, 2005, who are entering child-care programs or kindergarten, need to be immunized for tetanus and pertussis.
Children born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, who will enter grades 6 through 12 for the 2012-2013 school year need to be immunized for varicella (chicken pox).
Children must receive a booster dose of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis containing vaccine (Tdap) if they were born on or after Jan. 1, 1994, and are entering grades 6 through 11 for the 2012-2013 school year.
Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year. Have your child immunized against the flu as soon as vaccine is available.
New York state law requires that every child planning to go to a child-care center or school must be immunized against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella (chicken pox), Hib and pneumococcal disease. Hib and pneumococcal disease immunizations are required for child-care and pre-kindergarten programs only.
For all adults, including students entering college, a tetanus-diphtheria booster (Td) is recommended every 10 years. A second vaccine, Tdap, is the first vaccine for adolescents and adults that protects against pertussis as well as tetanus and diphtheria. All adults ages 18-65 who have never received Tdap should get a dose of Tdap as their next booster dose.
New York state law also requires each student born on or after Jan. 1, 1957, to have one dose of mumps vaccine, one dose of rubella vaccine, and two doses of measles vaccine. Being immunized against life-threatening meningococcal disease is specifically recommended for college students.
Students should check their immunization record with their health care provider or high school to be certain they meet these requirements.
Schuyler recommends students stay up to date with all of their immunizations, not just those that are required by law or for entering school.
For more information about immunizations, visit the State Health Department Web site at www.health.ny.gov/prevention/immunization. To schedule appointments for vaccines call the Chautauqua County Health Department at 1-866-604-6789.