Following the Vaccine Schedule Protects Children From Deadly Diseases

Texas children have a better likelihood of fighting off diseases circulating at school if their parents make sure they get their shots before the first bell rings. Doctors urge parents to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended school vaccine schedule to build their child’s immune system against dangerous diseases, reports the August issue of Texas Medicine magazine.

“School is an easy place for children to become infected and sick from a number of germs,” said Kim Avila Edwards, MD, an Austin pediatrician. “Fortunately, we can protect our children by vaccinating them from many illnesses. In fact, children should receive many important vaccinations before they reach school age.”

Dr. Avila Edwards recently worked with TMA on a video highlighting the importance of following Texas’ recommended vaccination schedule from kindergarten to college. The video can be viewed on the TMA YouTube channel.

The vaccination schedule, approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of medical and public health experts who develop national vaccine guidelines, contains 12 shots that protect against 16 illnesses. Following the vaccination schedule builds up a child’s immunity. However, if parents hold off or space out the shots over time (instead of following physicians’ guidelines), studies show children are vulnerable to getting sick for a longer period of time.

“As a pediatrician, I have treated children who are very ill because of vaccine preventable diseases. I would much rather vaccinate and protect them than to see them suffer from serious illnesses,” said Dr. Avila Edwards.

Immunizing children protects them from diseases that could make them very ill or even threaten their lives, and reduces the likelihood they’ll pass a disease to someone else who cannot be vaccinated or who cannot fight infections.

Children should get these disease-preventing vaccinations at several intervals in their lives, starting very young.

“All Texas public schools, most private schools, and colleges require certain shots before kids start kindergarten, seventh grade, and the freshman year of college,” she said in the video. “Check with your doctor before classes start to make sure your child’s vaccines are current.”

Below are the required vaccinations to enroll in a Texas school, and additional recommended vaccinations. The full vaccination schedule is featured in a recent Texas Medicine article on the TMA website.

Entering Kindergarten and 6th Grade

  • Required
    Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis
    Polio
    Pneumococcal
    Measles-Mumps-Rubella
    Hepatitis A
    Hepatitis B
    Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Recommended
    Flu (yearly, starting at 6 months)

Seventh through 12th grade

  • Required
    Meningococcal
    Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap)
  • Recommended
    Human papillomavirus (HPV)
    Flu

College

  • Required
    Meningococcal (for admission to college)
  • Recommended
    HPV
    Flu
    Meningococcal B (talk to your doctor to see if you need this vaccination)

This release is part of a monthly TMA series highlighting contagious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. TMA designed the series to inform patients of the facts about these diseases, and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see efforts to raise immunization awareness and how funding is used to increase vaccination rates.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 51,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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