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Avoid the rush -- get immunizations done early to protect your children and their classmates

PROVO, UTAH (June 29, 2012) - - We might be in the middle of summer, but now is an excellent time to start thinking about back-to-school immunizations. Children entering kindergarten or seventh grade are required by law to receive standard immunizations before classes begin again.

Each student must have proof of receiving the immunizations in order to be allowed to attend school. Kindergartners need to have shots for DTP/DTaP/DT, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A and Varicella (chickenpox.) For seventh graders, the same immunizations are required, along with a Tdap booster.

Pauline Hartvigsen, Utah County Health Department immunization bureau director, said this requirement insures health safety for children and their families. "Disease prevention is a key to protect you from others and protect others from any diseases that you may have," Hartvigsen said. "Ultimately, the immunizations are required to help everyone be healthy and to reduce preventable diseases in the United States."

Hartvigsen says this is especially important in light of the number of cases of pertussis -- also known as whooping cough -- that we have seen in the county. "We saw a lot of new cases right at the end of the school year, and new cases have continued to come up through the summer," she said. "If your child's immunizations are not up-to-date, or you have decided to not immunize, your child could be asked to stay home from school up to three weeks if an outbreak occurs. At that point, it is too late to get an immunization or un-exempt your child, so it is better -- and safer -- to get it done early."

According to the statewide immunization program, a child may be allowed to attend school conditionally only if at least one dose of each required immunization has been completed and the rest are scheduled for completion. If not, the child cannot remain at school.

Additionally, parents may obtain an exemption form for those children who claim exemption to immunization for medical, religious, or personal reasons.

"This is a great time to get back-to-school immunizations, because most medical care provider offices aren't really busy," said Hartvigsen. "Our clinic at the health department get's really crazy toward the end of July as everyone rushes to get immunizations completed. By coming in early, you not only can beat that rush, but also have the chance to fill in the gaps if you have an immunization that must be given in a series of shots spread out over time."

For questions regarding your child's immunization status, contact your child's health care provider, the Utah County Health Department of the Immunization Hotline (801-851-7025), or see www.UtahCountyHealth.org/immunizations.

The Utah County Health Department is committed to promoting the health of our community, prevent avoidable disease and injury by monitoring the health of our community, and assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. For information on UCHD programs or services, please visit www.UtahCountyHealth.org or call 801-851-7000. You can also now follow the UCHD at www.twitter.com/uchd or www. FaceBook.com/uchealth.

Related Links

Utah School Immunization Requirements

Immunization Clinic Hours

CDC Parents' Guide