Whether your child is entering school for the first time or about to graduate, back-to-school time is a good opportunity for parents to check up on their children's health and make sure they're protected against common childhood diseases and illnesses.
First on the list should be immunizations. Vaccination requirements can vary by state or school district. To find out exactly what's required at your child's school, contact the local school board.
What do we all need to know about whooping cough (pertussis)? WebMD asked epidemiologist Tom Clark, MD, MPH, of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
What is whooping cough?
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that's highly contagious, and it's also vaccine preventable. Especially in young kids and unvaccinated people, it causes a severe cough, which is the reason for the name, "whooping cough."
What kind of infection causes whooping cough?
Below are the recommended guidelines that have been approved by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
By Age 2
Vaccination series for the following should be completed by age 2 in all children:
Annual influenza vaccinations are recommended for all infants aged 6 to 24 months since this age group is at substantially higher risk for complications from the flu that may require hospitalization.
A series of hepatitis A vaccines may also be recommended starting at age 2 for children in some high-risk groups or areas. Check with your doctor or local public health department for more information. Annual flu vaccines are necessary because immunity to the flu virus does not persist and the strains of the flu virus change from year to year.
Boosters are recommended between ages 4 and 6 for the following vaccines:
Children younger than 9 years who have not previously received the flu vaccine need two doses of the vaccine, given more than one month apart. If possible, the second dose should be given before December. Annual vaccination is recommended after that point.
A visit to the pediatrician is recommended at age 11 to 12 to review all vaccinations and make sure all necessary vaccines have been given. A series of hepatitis B, MMR, or varicella vaccines may be given if they were missed or incomplete at earlier ages.