Back-to-school Immunizations - Access Health Louisiana

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Back-to-school Immunizations

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Back to school season is right around the corner, and with this time of year comes the time for updating your children’s immunizations. Though Louisiana does have vaccine exemptions for religious and philosophical reasons, the Louisiana Department of Health encourages parents to vaccinate their children along the age-appropriate immunization timelines. Vaccination is a highly effective, safe, and easy way to help keep your family healthy.  Carla Knighten, a Nurse Practitioner at Access Health Louisiana’s Warren Easton Wellness Center stated “each state decides which vaccines are required to enroll children in a childcare facility, school, college, university, or vocational school.  Each state also decides the exemptions for these vaccines. A child can be exempt from a vaccine in Louisiana if the student, parent, or guardian submits a written statement from a physician stating that a vaccine is contraindicated for medical reasons, or if the student, parent, or guardian submits a written dissent. However, if there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease at a facility, the administrators are allowed to exclude from attendance the unimmunized child or person until the end of incubation period or the unimmunized person submits proof of immunization.”

All vaccines are tested to make sure that they are safe and effective to be received by the children of the recommended age. What vaccines do your children need to receive to attend schools?   The Louisiana Department of Health created a chart to help parents determine which vaccinations are appropriate by age.  For more information about required vaccines for Louisiana schools, visit the LDH’s page found here.

In addition to the required vaccines for schooling, the CDC now recommends Covid-19 vaccines for any child 6 months or older.   Knighten added, “The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older to get the Covid-19 vaccine and everyone 5 years and older to also get a Covid-19 vaccine booster, unless the child has had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose or has a known allergy to one of the ingredients in the vaccine.” Now that Covid cases are on the rise again, getting vaccinated is the best way to protecting yourself and your family from serious illness. For more information about the Covid vaccine visit the LDH’s page here. To schedule your or your child’s Covid-19 vaccine, reach out to your local provider or contact Access Health Louisiana at 504-575-3700 to make an appointment.

To help you keep track of your vaccine records, the LA wallet app has been expanded to grant parents digital copies of not only yours but your children’s vaccination cards. This expansion will make keeping track of your family’s health information even easier. For more details about the LA wallet update, you can click here to read the Governor John Bell Edward’s announcement about the update.

Are vaccines safe?  As a mom and a nurse, Knighten believes “vaccines are safe. Before being approved for administration to people, vaccines go through a rigorous process of review by scientists and healthcare professionals. The discomfort associated with adverse effects, like pain or redness to the injection site, is minimal compared to the consequences of actual disease. Serious side effects, like an allergic reaction following vaccination, are exceedingly rare. People should make sure their child is not allergic to any of the ingredients before getting a vaccine.” All ingredients in vaccines are necessary for the body’s immune response and for the safety of the immunization.  For more information about the role of these ingredients along with other previous ingredients, visit the CDC page addressing common concerns with vaccination found here.

Vaccines are the best way to protect your child from infectious diseases. Knighten added, “Vaccines can save your child’s life. Vaccines reduce the risk of serious disease, disability, and illness. In some cases, vaccines have eradicated certain infections like smallpox. Another example is polio. People no longer must fear polio in the United States of America because it no longer exists here. Polio used to cause paralysis and death to thousands of Americans every year before the polio vaccine was created.”  Vaccination has allowed illnesses such as polio and measles to fall into the background. However, with more families opting to not vaccinate their children along the normal vaccination schedule, new cases of these once controlled viruses are popping up around the country. For example, the CDC reports that in 2019, 1282 people across 31 states were reported as having measles. For more information on Measles vaccination and outbreaks, visit the CDC’s page found here. Vaccination actively protects your children from being impacted by these outbreaks. Additionally, vaccination helps you protect your neighbors. “Vaccinating your children can also prevent the spread of disease to those around them.,” according to Knighten.  “For example, some people have weakened immune systems or can’t be vaccinated due to allergies or certain conditions. Getting vaccinated can help prevent your children spreading the disease to these people.”   To learn more about different infectious diseases that vaccinations have helped us overcome, visit the CDC’s page here.

To update your child’s vaccinations as they are heading back to school, reach out to your local provider or call Access Health Louisiana at (504)-575-3700 to find a provider near you.