Back to School: Your Kids' Vaccinations

For many children, middle school aged and younger, vaccinations are due before the start of the academic year later this month. Preteens and teens also may need vaccines.

This is the time of year when state, county and schools officials remind parents to consult with their pediatrician about vaccinations. To make it easier on the child, your doctor may use combinations of vaccines that are available to reduce the number of needle sticks your child will receive.

Pediatricians and family physicians can also help allay any worries you may have about side effects.

“Every parent should take the appropriate time to ask their doctors about any concerns they may have about vaccines. It’s natural for parents to be curious and have concerns,” said Javier Hiriart, M.D., a pediatrician and Baptist Health Medical Group physician with Baptist Health Primary Care. “The biggest concern is that not all that should or could be vaccinated receive their immunizations.”

“Making sure your children stay up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your communities and schools from outbreaks that can cause unnecessary illnesses and deaths,” says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During the early years of life, children need vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be serious, even life-threatening, the CDC says.

Flu vaccines are especially recommended for kids in preschool and elementary school. In fact, national and state health officials urge that all children 6 months and older get flu vaccines. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions about vaccinations for your children and teens.

The CDC does not set immunization requirements for schools. Instead, each state and county decides which immunizations are required for your child’s enrollment and attendance at a child care facility or school.

Immunization requirements and allowable exemptions may vary by county. Here are the immunization websites for Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.

The CDC states that some vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare because of the vaccines. However, cases and outbreaks still happen. The U.S. saw a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 668 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000. From January 1 to June 26, 2015, there have been 178 cases of measles and 5 outbreaks reported in the United States.

“The risk of not vaccinating is higher than the risk of vaccinating,” says Dr. Hiriart, from the Family Medicine Center at West Kendall Baptist Hospital. “There are obviously some side effects that can happen, such as minor fevers, redness or swelling to the injection area or some localized pain. But these are minor and happening infrequently. The benefits far outweigh the risks.”

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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