Ouch! Time for school shots

Published 12:19 am Friday, July 20, 2012

Attention parents – make an appointment now to get your child immunized before August’s start of school.

Many parents may have received letters from schools reminding them of the need to update their immunization forms, also known as blue slips. Those at Covington Pediatrics in Andalusia said it could be three to six weeks before an appointment time is available.

“People don’t need to wait until the week before school starts to try to get an appointment,” said Allison Clark, Covington Pediatrics nurse. “They need to call and set up ahead of time because for us, we’re already booking into August.”

As for what immunizations are needed before the Aug. 20 beginning of school, there are many factors, she said.

“It really depends on their ages and what grade they’re going into as to what immunizations they need,” Clark said.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the vaccinations currently required for school entry are polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. The Hib, or Haemophilus Influenzae Type b, vaccine is required for daycare as well.

Additionally, students age 11 or 12 entering the sixth grade are required to get the Tdap vaccine, Clark said.

“Also, if they haven’t had their second chicken pox vaccine, they get that, too, because, beginning January 2013, it’s mandated that everyone have a second vaccine, ” she said. “An easy rule to remember is students need shots going into school, into middle school and then going into college.

“For college students, it’s recommended that if they haven’t had a Tdap within the last five years, they should get that, as well as a Hepatitis B vaccine, but the thing to remember is that different colleges require different things,” she said. “So, check before heading up.”

Clark said this is a busy time at local doctors’ offices. She said it’s her office’s practice that if the student hasn’t had a wellness check up during the last 12 months, they will be required to see a physician.

“That way, we can get a baseline of how they’re doing – you know, weight, height, all those important things,” she said. “But those who’ve already been to see us, they can elect to see a nurse practictioner or even a nurse for their immunizations.”

Immunizations are also offered at the Covington County Health Department Monday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. While appointments are not necessary, early arrival times are recommended to reduce wait time. Parents must present immunization history to the DPH before immunizations can be given.