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Are your child’s immunizations up-to-date?
GRANT COUNTY – Getting ready for school means getting school supplies and back packs. It’s also the perfect time to make sure children are up-to-date on their shots. Getting all of the recommended shots is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their kids’ health. When children are not up-to-date on all of their shots, they are at higher risk for getting sick and can spread disease to others in their classroom and community – including babies who are too young to get many of the shots, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions. Students can easily spread illnesses to one another because of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and crowds, such as school. The shots that are recommended and required to enroll in school are available at your doctor’s office at no or low cost to families.

To celebrate the importance of immunizations throughout life – and make sure children are protected with all the shots they need – the Grant County Health District is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month. Below is a summary of shots children need. Kids age 4 to 6 are due for boosters of four shots: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and polio.

    Children ages 7 through 10 years who are not fully immunized against whooping cough (i.e., did not complete a DTaP series of five shots before their seventh birthday) should receive a single dose of Tdap now.
    Older kids – preteens and teens – need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MCV (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccines.
    A yearly flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. It’s not too early to ask about a flu shot!

Parents can find out which shots are required for school and child care by visiting: www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/Immunization/VaccineRequirements.aspx . “It is important for families to know that kids who aren’t fully immunized may be sent home from school, preschool, or child care if a disease outbreak occurs,” states Carol Schimke, Grant County Health District Public Health Nurse and Immunization Coordinator.

In 2011 a new law changed the process for parents or guardians to exempt children from required shots. Parents must fill out and submit an “exemption certificate” that is signed by a healthcare provider verifying the provider shared information on immunization benefits and risks. List of frequently asked questions regarding the Washington State School and Child Care Immunization Exemption Law visit: www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/Immunization/Exemptions/ExemptionFAQ.aspx

No-cost shots are offered for kids up to age 19 through healthcare providers who participate in the Washington State Childhood Vaccine Program. They may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee to give the shots. People who cannot afford the administration fee can ask the healthcare provider to waive the cost.

If you haven’t already, check your child’s shot record and schedule a visit to their doctor or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a last minute rush and make sure there are no surprises on the first day back to school. For help finding a healthcare provider or a clinic who offers childhood shots, call the Grant County Health District at 509-766-7960 or the Within Reach www.withinreachwa.org Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

Healthcare Providers and Clinics:
When it comes to vaccines, healthcare providers are parents’ most trusted resource. The CDC’s web site offers healthcare providers all the educational materials needed to have a successful vaccination conversation with parents. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/patient-ed/conversations/index.html.

Theresa Adkinson, Central Washington Healthy Communities
GCHD Public Information Officer
Phone: 509-766-7960 ext. 24
Cell: 509-793-3520
Grant Public Health - Always Working for a Safer and Healthier Grant County