july 13, 2015
Kentucky Health News
Events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism about health care and health in Kentucky
State requirements are in place for kindergartners and rising sixth graders
(An editorial in the Bowling Green Daily News about the importance of getting your child vaccinated before school starts is applicable to all communities in Kentucky.)
State law requires children to be vaccinated upon entering kindergarten, with exemptions given only for medical or religious purposes. Fewer than 1 percent of Kentucky’s kindergarteners were exempted during the 2013-14 school year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For years, widespread misinformation about the safety of immunizations has caused some parents to think the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine or the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal causes autism. Both of these claims have been proven untrue. The original study that linked the MMR vaccine to autism has since been scientifically discredited and is now considered “fraudulent,” and extensive scientific studies have concluded that there is no causal connection between thimerosal and autism. The MMR vaccine does not contain thimerosal.
The editorial notes that this reluctance to vaccinate has shifted since the outbreak of measles earlier this year that resulted in mostly unvaccinated people becoming infected with measles at Disneyland from an infected traveler.
“A University of Michigan poll released this month shows 34 percent of parents think vaccines have more benefit than they did one year ago; 25 percent of parents believe vaccines are safer than they were a year ago; and 35 percent of parents report more support for day care and school vaccine requirements than a year ago,” the editorial writes.
So far this year, nearly 200 people have contracted measles. In 2014, there were more than 600 cases, a sharp increase from the less than 200 the year before, according to the CDC.
So, with school about to start in a month, the editorial encourages all of its citizens to get their kids vaccinated.
“The beginning of school will be here before you know it,”says the editorial. “So please take your kids and get the necessary vaccinations they need for their own well being and for the well being of their classmates.”
Before kindergarten, kids need immunizations, a school physical, a vision exam and a dental exam.
Children entering kindergarten receive the DtaP for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; a measles-mumps-ruebella vaccine; and a chicken pox vaccine.
Children entering sixth grade receive a booster vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (TDAP), a meningitis vaccine, and a second chicken-pox vaccine.
The HPV vaccine is also recommended, but not required. This vaccine protects against the many cancers caused by the human papillomavirus, including cervical cancer in girls, and anal cancer and genital warts in both girls and boys. HPV vaccines are given in a three-dose series that should be started and finished when the boy or girl is 11 and 12. Pre-teens and teens who have not gotten this vaccine series should ask their primary care provider about getting them.
Flu vaccines are recommended for school-aged children every year as soon as it is available, but not required. This vaccine is especially important for those with chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes.
Posted by Melissa Patrick at 5:01 PM