Immunizations and School

Immunizations are an important factor in enrolling your child/ren in school and don’t come without some confusion and questions.

This is the first in a two-part series that looks at the roll of immunizations in the overall health or children and youth in our country and why there continues to be requirements around them despite some controversy. Information is always an important tool for any parent or guardian to have when making decisions concerning their child’s health and wellbeing. In this first article we will tackle:

Information on what immunizations are required for school and daycare,

Links to immunization forms, and

Exemption forms for those families who have personal or religious refusal of immunizations.

Information put out by the Washington State Department of Health tells us that recommendations for immunization are that:

Children need many vital immunizations by age two.

Infants are often more vulnerable to disease than older children and adults, and often the diseases are more serious in infants than in older children.

Many diseases that can be prevented have no cure or treatment.

A disease may not currently be present in a community, but disease outbreaks can and do occur when populations are not protected. With frequent international travel, diseases from other parts of the world are literally only a plane ride away.

Immunizations save money. Diseases that can be prevented cost 16 times more in medical-related expenses than the vaccine that prevents the disease. The nationwide 1989-1991 measles outbreak caused 44,000 days of hospitalization resulting in $100 million in direct medical costs. This does not include direct costs to families, such as lost days of work, school, and child care.

The following 15 serious childhood diseases are preventable and vaccines against these are recommended for children 0-6 years of age:

Hepatitis B

Rotavirus

Diphtheria

Tetanus

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Pneumococcal

Polio

Influenza

Measles

Mumps

Rubella

Varicella (chickenpox)

Hepatitis A

Meningococcal

An easy to understand chart about the required vaccinations for Washington State can be found at:

http://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/348-295-SchoolImmReqforParents2016-2017.pdf

You can also find the immunization forms at (in multiple languages):

http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/Immunization/FormsandPublications/OtherLanguage

(Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Española, Tagalog, Vietnamese) Immunization forms

Some families don’t choose vaccinations due to religious or strong personal beliefs and for those parents or guardians there are also forms to be filled out and taken to your healthcare provider for approval. Families who choose this should understand, however, that due to the resurgence of several serious diseases, leaving your children unimmunized carries a risk of contracting a serious illness. As it stands right now exemptions are permitted by the State when a parent, guardian or caregiver have religious beliefs or strong philosophical or moral objections around immunizations.

So make sure you check with your school district and take the forms into your child’s Dr. to have it signed. The link for these forms are also in multiple languages and are found at:

http://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/348-106_CertificateofExemption.pdf

(Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Española, Tagalog, Vietnamese)

While this is an option for families it is important to thoroughly research in pros and cons of immunization and weigh the risks before making those choices. It is important to note that diseases that had previously been either eliminated or greatly reduced have started re-appearing in our country and Pertussis and measles have been at epidemic proportions during the last three school years. A great link from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that talks about immunizations in parent friendly language can be found at:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html

If you need to update your child’s immunizations before school starts and you don’t have a Dr. or your insurance doesn’t cover well child visits check with your local health department or community health clinics. Many of them have immunization clinics where families can take their children to be vaccinated. The links below will take you to the exemption form, immunization forms and fact sheets in multiple languages and a simple easy to understand chart of the required immunizations for school enrollment.

In the next article, we will get more in-depth around vaccinations, the diseases they combat and the impact in our states students around unvaccinated children. Please tune back in for the September article for more in-depth information about immunizations.