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For your child’s health: Immunizations are important

School has resumed. Immunizations against preventable childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis and whooping cough, are some of the thoughts a parent has in preparation for the new school year. If children are entering kindergarten 7th, or 12th grades, the state law in Ohio states specific immunization requirements. The Columbiana County Health Department is scheduling appointments to administer these and other back-to-school vaccinations.

When was the last time anyone heard of a smallpox or polio outbreak?

“Vaccines work!” advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. “…statistics indicate that because of vaccination, the U.S. has seen a significant reduction in disease.

“When more people choose not to vaccinate for non-medical reasons, these numbers may change, indicating an increase in disease. Arguments that indicate natural immunity is better than vaccine induced immunity are false. Vaccines stop the spread of disease before it starts. Vaccines allow individuals to be protected from disease while not experiencing symptoms or complications of the disease.”

“Herd immunity” is when more of the population is immune to an infectious disease because they have been immunized or have had prior illness preventing the spread of disease from one person to another. But as more parents refuse immunizations, herd immunity is reduced. Diseases that were eradicated decades ago are on the rise again.

Currently there is a measles epidemic in the U.S. largely within unvaccinated individuals. Children not receiving the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine, a two-dose series recommended at 12-15 months old with the booster at 4-6 years old, are most at risk.

Measles symptoms include cough, conjunctivitis (red, watery eyes) and coryza (runny nose), known as the “Three C’s.” The measles rash starts on the head, spreads down the body, then fades in the same order it appeared.

There is also a hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S., affecting 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The vaccine is recommended beginning at 12 months of age and is a two-dose series.

Immunizations required for preschool and kindergarten are: DTaP, Polio, MMR, Varicella, and Hepatitis B. Upon entry into 7th grade, all students must receive Tdap and meningococcal vaccines, and at 12th grade, a second dose of meningococcal vaccine.

The effectiveness of these vaccines is so great, many of today’s parents are not aware of what preceded vaccines. You can read about disease symptoms and complications of childhood vaccine preventable diseases at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/partners/childhood/. The biggest influence in making decisions about appropriate and timely vaccinations for children is directly related to guidance from the doctor that the parents trust to provide for their child’s health and well being.

The Columbiana County Health Department provides information to help parents make educated immunization choices. The vaccines used at the health department are available for free to families that are uninsured, under-insured, and covered by Medicaid. Vaccines are also available to families with private insurance. A custodial parent must bring the child and an up-to-date shot record is required for new patients.

For more information, call the health department at 330-424-0272, ext. 114. The department is located at 7360 state Route 45, Lisbon.

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