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Family Nutrition & Health

Shooting Down Disease

Back-to-school prep isn’t just about backpacks, paper and pens. It’s also about being sure your entire family remains healthy through the school year. Schools, daycare centers and play areas are hotbeds of infectious disease outbreaks – but you CAN do something about reducing your family’s risk of getting sick.

Just as seatbelts protect us from harm in a car, vaccines are an important way to protect us against serious – and sometimes deadly – common diseases. But vaccines aren’t just for kids. The Center for Disease Control recommends we stay up-to-date on vaccines throughout our lives, no matter our age.

For the kids:
To protect the health of all students, most schools require children be current on vaccinations before they can be enrolled. Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, whooping cough and chickenpox. When children are not vaccinated, they are at an increased risk of contracting threatening diseases, and can spread them to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems.

Parental Homework:
Before you send your kids back to school, here’s something every parent should do: Talk to your children’s doctor to be sure they have the protection they need when they need it.

  • Children 4 - 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio.
  • Older boys and girls, including pre-teens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), MCV (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines whey they are 11 or 12.
  • The CDC also recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all children 6 months and older.

For young adults and adults:
You never outgrow your need for protection against disease. College-age kids may need boosters before they head off to campus, and parents aren’t immune just because you were vaccinated as a child. Talk to your doctor about your whole family’s vaccine schedule – and be sure to get a flu shot as soon as they become available too. Everyone’s health is important!

Online Tools:
The CDC has easy-to-read immunization schedules to help you prepare for your doctor’s visit, and tools for helping track of recommended immunizations for everyone in the family. Print it out and bring it along to your annual pre-school exam.

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