Immunizations: Get your child ready for school

According to the CDC, vaccine orders are down 14% in 2020 compared with 2019. With school approaching, now’s the time to get kids vaccinated.

COVID-19 disrupted the lives of children and families since the pandemic began. Parents may have put routine well visits for their kids on hold because of the coronavirus, and as a result, children have fallen behind on vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public sector vaccine ordering data shows a 14% drop in 2020 compared with 2019, with measles vaccine demand down by more than 20%. For parents, there’s still time to catch up on immunizations before school starts.

States, including Kentucky and Indiana, have immunization laws and regulations in place for students who attend school. With many schools using remote learning during the pandemic, however, it may have been easier for parents to miss these vaccine requirements as a child transitioned to a new grade or started school.

Vaccine schedule by age

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers suggested vaccine schedules for children by age:

Talk with your child’s pediatrician or health care provider about catching up if you notice you’ve missed a vaccine for your child.

“School vaccine requirements exist to help keep highly contagious diseases such as measles at bay,” said Maria T. Bowling, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Windy Hills. “These vaccinations help keep herd immunity to prevent outbreaks of these conditions in our schools and the community.”

Vaccines help boost your child’s natural immunity to help them safely develop protection from diseases like measles, mumps, rubella (the MMR vaccine is for these three), whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B and many more. Older children need vaccines for serious conditions such as meningitis (a requirement to attend many colleges) and HPV, an infection that can lead to serious conditions later in life such as cancer. Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children. Vaccines also are monitored after they are in use by the U.S. vaccine safety monitoring system.

“Many of the vaccines offered to children are well researched and have been around for decades,” Dr. Bowling said. “If you have any concerns about vaccines or their outcomes, talk to your child’s pediatrician. We want to understand your concerns and help allay any fear or hesitancy you may have.”

Norton Children’s Medical Group

Make a back-to-school appointment

For students returning to the classroom this fall, there is still time to catch up on vaccines before heading back to school or starting college. For some colleges and universities, there may be a requirement for students to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to attend school. According to The Chronicle for Higher Education, examples of schools in our region that have the requirement are Berea College, Indiana University Southeast and Indiana University – Bloomington. Norton Healthcare offers COVID-19 vaccines for ages 12 and up.

“If your child missed a vaccine, or they’re due, give your pediatrician a call,” Dr. Bowling said. “There is no judgment in having missed a well-child appointment during the pandemic. Pediatricians want to help children be safe and healthy when heading back to school.”