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Message from the State Health Officer

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Parents Reminded It's Time for Back-to-School Immunizations

The month of July is a good time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.

One of the most important things parents can do to help protect their children’s health, the health of their classmates, and their community is to ensure their children receive all recommended vaccines on time. In addition, Alabama state law requires all children to present an up-to-date Certificate of Immunization (COI) upon entrance to childcare centers and school.

Parents are the key to ensure their children are vaccinated according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Schedule, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. For example in Alabama in the past 12 months, there were 174 pertussis or whooping cough cases. Many of these cases could have been prevented with vaccines given on schedule.

When children are not vaccinated, they are at risk of disease and can spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community. Communities with groups of unvaccinated people are vulnerable to preventable diseases. Vaccine protects the people who received the vaccine, as well as children too young to be vaccinated, persons with medical conditions preventing vaccination, and those who do not respond to the vaccine.

Childcare-age children need vaccine to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and pneumococcal disease.

Children entering school need booster doses of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio vaccines.

Preteens and teenagers need tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, human papillomavirus, and meningococcal conjugate vaccines.

All children 6 months and older are recommended to receive annual flu vaccines.

The 2015-16 Alabama School Entry Survey found the following:

  • More than 26,845 (3.43%) students did not have a COI on file.
  • 13,531 (1.72%) students had an expired COI.
  • 6,450 (0.82%) students had a Religious Exemption on file.

Please check with your child’s health care provider or local health department to find out what vaccines they need this year. Parents can find out more about the immunizations children need at adph.org/immunization.

Thomas M. Miller, M.D.
State Health Officer

(July 2016)

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