Make sure students' vaccinations are current
Aug. 7, 2014 at 11:45 a.m.
A new school year is just around the corner, and the most important thing on parents' back-to-school checklists shouldn't be shopping for supplies or getting new clothes.
It's making sure your student is up-to-date on his or her shots.
There are several reasons why this is vital, but the most practical is this: "No shots, no school" is part of Texas' administrative and education codes, with few exemptions, according to Diane Boyett, Victoria school district communications director.
Health-wise, immunizations get an A-plus. Serious diseases like polio, tetanus and diptheria have almost entirely been eliminated. Depending on the study, childhood vaccines are 85 percent to 98 percent effective, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Making sure your child is up-to-date also protects those in the community who can't be vaccinated for some reason, including people with allergies and those with weakened immune systems.
Some parents are wary of vaccines' side effects, but according to the California Immunization Coalition, serious reactions occur in one to two people per every million shots given. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute on Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found no association between vaccines and autism.
The list of Texas' minimum state vaccine requirements for students from kindergarten through high school is on the state's Department of Health Services website. To check your child's status, talk to your family physician. Some pharmacies can also give immunizations to students, depending on their age, Boyett said.
Don't hesitate to make that appointment if your child needs shots, as scheduling will only get tighter as Aug. 25 approaches.
VISD's campaign to remind parents has included an immunization clinic co-hosted with DeTar Healthcare System and the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The district's website has a "Back to School" section with information regarding immunizations. You can learn more at visd.com/visdNews/BTS. School nurses are also on hand at the district's scheduled registrations, which continue through Tuesday, to answer any questions you may have and gather information on any special health needs for students.
And it's not only parents who can get involved. Health is a community issue. Doctors and pharmacists can remind their patients - especially those with preschoolers and seventh-graders - to make sure they're current.
"The last thing we want to do is have a student show up on the first day of school and send them home," Boyett said. "That's not the way to start the school year."
We agree. And it's up to parents and health care providers to make sure all students start off the year on the right foot by being up-to-date with their vaccinations.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.