As we prepare to flip the calendar page to August, officials with the Ohio Association of School Nurses want to let parents know that now is the time to schedule school-required vaccinations.
Kate King, RN, President of the Ohio Association of School Nurses, and school nurse with Columbus City Schools, wants to emphasize that parents or guardians who wait until school is about to start may have difficulty making an appointment with their pediatrician or primary care provider.
“Past experience has shown us that provider’s offices will be overrun right before school starts,” King noted. “We encourage parents and guardians to schedule your child or children’s vaccinations now to avoid any unnecessary delays.”
If parents are unable to schedule an appointment, they are encouraged to contact their local health department for information on available immunizations.
Children entering kindergarten must be vaccinated for polio, chicken pox, measles/mumps/rubella, hepatitis B, and diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis. Students entering the seventh grade in Ohio are required to have a booster shot of the Tdap vaccination (Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis).
Sports physicals offer an additional opportunity to update vaccinations. If your child receives a physical from a health care provider other than their regular pediatrician or family physician, remember to check with his or her primary care physician to ensure he or she is current on vaccinations.
King also urges both parents and providers to use the opportunity of a doctor's visit to get children and adolescents all the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), not just those mandated for school attendance.
In addition to mandatory vaccines, CDC recommends that children older than 6 months have a flu shot, and that adolescents have the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. King pointed out, “Since teenagers in particular don't go to the doctor often, it's important to seize the opportunity for them to get all recommended shots while they are there.”
Ohio law does not specify immunization requirements for college enrollment, but the law does require students to disclose whether they're immunized against meningitis and Hepatitis B before they can live in on-campus housing. Many Ohio colleges do require newly enrolled students to have a meningococcal disease vaccine. Students are advised to check their university or college entrance rules for immunization requirements.