All children’s vaccinations are important.
That’s what Michael Marshall, MD, an independently practicing physician on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, specializing in pediatrics and internal medicine in Dallas,
“The ones that are going to trip parents up the most this year are the relatively new requirements for the tetanus diphtheria, acellular pertussis, and meningitis before children enter the seventh grade,” Marshall explains. “While this is not the first year for this requirement, there are still a lot of kids who need to catch up.”
Marshall says parents should check on the minor changes that range from state to state for the upcoming school year regarding immunizations.
In Texas for example, to enter kindergarten children need four DTaP, four IPV, two MMR, three Hep B, two Hep A, and two varicella and by seventh grade a meningitis vaccine, second TDaP (tetanus diphtheria acellular pertussis) vaccine, and the second varicella if, not given previously.
Marshall believes this is also a good time to consider the HPV vaccination. He also points out shots that children are not getting that are helpful, but not required. “In our culture we have a problem with inadequate immunizations of children, not over immunization of children,” he explains. “Thousands of people die yearly from preventable illnesses such as the flu and human papilloma virus induced cervical cancer. So, I would respond that the flu or influenza vaccination and human papilloma virus vaccinations are probably two of the most underutilized vaccinations.”
There have also been improvements with the administration of the flu vaccine over the past two years, making it tolerable to young children and adults who are afraid of needles. One of these improvements is a flu mist, which is a nasal mist vaccine that provides good coverage without an injection. The other involves a very short, nearly invisible needle that provides a greatly enhanced vaccination experience.
“Parents need to stay involved in their children's lives as they go through the school year,” Marshall concludes. “They need to keep up with what's going on academically and socially. They need to make sure their children have common sense protection items like bicycle helmets and seatbelts to reduce accidents and trauma, which are also still the major cause of mortality for children today.”