How to get healthy for back-to-school season

shutterstock_174169982Does your back-to-school checklist include getting your kids vaccinated? As a parent, making sure your child is vaccinated before the school year begins is an important step toward ensuring their long-term health and abiding by the state immunization laws. Vaccination not only protects your child, but also helps protect the health of classmates, friends, relatives and others in the community.

According to Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR), as of December 2017, only 56.2 percent of Michigan toddlers and 38 percent of Michigan teens aged 13 to 17 years are up to date on all their recommended vaccinations. Follow the suggestions below to help protect your school-age child from serious diseases.

Check Your Child’s Immunization Records

Determine what vaccines your child needs, and catch up on any missed vaccines before the school year begins. There are a few places to look to find your child’s immunization records. The following agencies may have a copy of the records:

Follow the Recommended Immunization Schedule

Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children. Use the CDC’s Recommended Immunization Schedule and work with your healthcare provider to determine what vaccines your child needs.

Three vaccines are recommended specifically for preteens, in addition to a yearly flu vaccine:

  • HPV vaccine protects against HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life.
  • Tdap is a booster shot to help protect preteens from whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria.
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against meningitis, and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal.

Get an Annual Flu Shot

Annual flu vaccines are recommended for children 6 months and older. Each year, millions of children get sick from seasonal flu. Thousands are hospitalized and some children die from flu. Children of any age with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of serious flu complications.

Hep A – No Way!

One of the largest hepatitis A outbreaks in the country is currently occurring in Michigan. Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver cause by a virus. Symptoms may include sudden onset of abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, tiredness, loss of appetite and/or headache followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). Vaccination is recommended for everyone and is the best protection against Hepatitis A.

Vaccines are available at the Oakland County Health Division. Pre-payment and registration are not available at these walk-in clinics. Health Division offices are located at the following addresses:

  • North Oakland Health Center, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 34 East, Pontiac
  • South Oakland Health Center, 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield

For more information about immunizations, visit www.oakgov.com/health or call Oakland County Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. Follow @PublicHealthOC on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for up-to-date public health information.

Hanna Cassise, MPH, is the public health educator for the Oakland County Health Division.

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