Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 8:21am

The start of the school year will be here before we know it, and now is the time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines before sending them back to school. To keep children in schools healthy, state law requires certain immunizations for children who are in schools and daycares.

"If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check with your child’s health care provider to find out what immunizations your child needs,” said Diane McHugh, Immunization Coordinator for Public Health Madison & Dane County. “Parents can also check the Wisconsin Immunization Registry for a record of their child’s immunizations at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/wir.htm, and compare it to what immunizations are required.” Wisconsin immunization requirements can be viewed at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p44021.pdf

Next, make an appointment to get the needed immunizations. Usually, immunizations can be given at any health care visit, including sports physicals, checkups or some sick visits. Public Health Madison & Dane County offers FREE immunizations, by appointment, to children who do not have health insurance, or who are on Medical Assistance or BadgerCare. Call (608) 266-4821 to make an appointment or for questions

Do not wait to schedule an appointment,” says Sally Zirbel-Donish, Health Services Coordinator for Madison Metropolitan School District. “Many times, parents wait to schedule an appointment and find out that they cannot get an appointment in time for the start of school. As a result, quite often we see families scrambling in the first month of school to get their children immunized. Sometimes this means children don’t get the required immunizations in time and parents then receive legal notices telling them their child cannot return to school until they’re immunized. This can be stressful.”

It's not just kids starting pre-K and kindergarten who need immunizations. “Many parents don’t realize that their 6th grader needs immunizations,” said McHugh. "Students starting 6th grade are required to have a Tdap vaccine to prevent tetanus and whooping cough. It's also recommended at this age that kids get a dose of Meningococcal vaccine to prevent meningitis, and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunization is recommended for both boys and girls, to prevent certain cancers."

Kids heading off to college will also need some immunizations. A list of what is needed can be obtained by calling their health care provider. Influenza vaccines are also recommended for everyone 6 months and older and should be available in September.

Immunizations are safe and effective. They offer protection from 16 potentially serious diseases. Children staying up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect schools and communities from disease that cause unnecessary illnesses and even death.

For more detailed information on immunizations go to www.publichealthmdc.com/health-services/immunizations/for-work-school-travel

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