GEHA | August 23, 2019
It’s back-to-school time, the perfect opportunity to make sure your child is fully prepared for a new school year. One of the most important things you can do is keep your child’s immunizations up to date.
Vaccinations help protect your child from diseases that could cause serious health problems. They also help protect the health of classmates, friends, relatives and others in the community.
State laws establish vaccination requirements for school children that often apply to children attending private schools and day cares as well as public schools. Proof of immunization is often required for enrollment.
Vaccinations aren’t all given right after a baby is born. They’re mostly spaced throughout the first 24 months of a child’s life to provide protection when the child is most vulnerable. Vaccines are given in several stages or doses based on standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By the time a child has reached age 2, he or she should have received enough shots to be immunized against 14 serious diseases: chickenpox (varicella), diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, Hib disease, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, pneumococcal infection, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, and influenza.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember the vaccination schedule all by yourself. Your child’s doctor will guide you through the process – or get you back on track if your child has missed vaccines. A chart of the recommended vaccination timeline is shown below (or may be downloaded as a PDF).
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work by activating the immune system, preparing the body to fight a disease as if the disease is attacking the body. This prepares the body to battle the disease later, when or if you actually become exposed. Because immunizations mimic diseases (in very small doses) there are occasional side effects of soreness or redness around the injection site or a low-grade fever. Side effects usually disappear in a few days. Serious allergic reactions to a vaccine usually happen very soon after getting the vaccine, and doctors’ offices are well-equipped to handle such reactions.
How effective are vaccines?
Most of the recommended childhood immunizations are 90% to 100% effective. Children in whom the vaccine is 100% effective protect those few children who have not been completely immunized, lessening everyone’s chance of exposure to disease. If a vaccine has not given a child 100% immunity and the child is exposed to an infectious disease, the symptoms are usually milder than if not immunized.
Watch a video about the importance of getting your children immunized at the GEHA Health Balance portal. You must sign in to access the video.
“2019 Recommended Vaccinations for Infants and Children (birth through 6 years).” www.cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 February 2019.
“Does Your Back-to-School Checklist Include Vaccination?” www.cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 24 July 2018.
“State Vaccination Requirements.” www.cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 15 November 2016.
“Immunizations and Vaccines.” www.webmd.com, WebMD LLC, 20 May 2018.