Immunizations: A back-to-school essential

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As if you don’t have enough to think about now that we’re suddenly in Back to School season, here’s another item for your to-do list: Immunization!

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control revealed findings that FluMist Quadrivalent – a live attenuated influenza vaccine administered via nasal spray rather with a needle, like a standard flu shot – is not as effective as initially thought. Though currently recommended for Canadian kids aged two to 17, with national study results not yet available, the bad news for kids might be that they’re back on for their annual flu shot. (A helpful hint: Kids under nine years old who are receiving the flu shot for the first time will need two doses before the season, October to April, begins. It takes two weeks for the antibodies to become effective, at any age. Full flu resources can be found here.)

But with back-to-school just around the corner, flu is just one of the things to guard kids against. Immunization protects kids from a host of common, preventable diseases – and it’s important that your child is immunized before they start school.

First, download ImmunizeCA, an award-winning app for your mobile device. Not only does it offer vaccination schedules, but it also helps you manage your family’s appointments, keep immunization records and read expert information about various illnesses. (And, in the worst-case scenario department, you’ll be alerted to any disease outbreaks in your area.) The Canadian government also offers a helpful scheduling and information tool.

It’s recommended that you follow a vaccination schedule and keep your kids’ shots up-to-date. The Government of Canada immunization information page answers all your questions about immunization and reminds you that: “Your child’s immune system is amazing. It can easily handle more than one vaccine at a time safely and effectively.”

Primary students

Children aged four to six will need the following vaccines:

  • MMR-Var for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella
  • Tdap-IPV for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio

Preteens

Students entering Grade 7 receive free vaccines covering:

  • Two doses of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine (HPV)
  • Two doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough)
  • Meningococcal Quadrivalent (meningococcal groups A, C, Y and W 135)

Additional vaccines are available for youth at higher risk for illness; talk to your family physician about options and availability.

Older teens

Students in their late teens need an annual flu shot too, and depending on their childhood immunization schedules they could be in the market for tetanus and diphtheria boosters (these should happen every 10 years). If they’ve had neither the disease nor the vaccine for the following, get them immunized immediately: chicken pox, measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles). Finally, if you have a university or college student in your family, make sure their immunizations are up-to-date before they head back to campus.

 

If you’re wondering about your own immunization schedule, check out our other blog post: Are You Up To Date With Your Immunizations? Here’s What You Should Get and When.
Some vaccinations are given based on age. Other vaccinations are triggered by events – for example, if you cut yourself while working outside, you’ll need a tetanus booster, or if you’re heading for a tropical vacation, you might choose to be inoculated against traveller’s diarrhea. This blog post offers a guideline to the vaccinations that you and your family need to stay healthy, at any age.

 

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