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Article updated: 7/29/2013 11:40 AM

Remember to Add Vaccinations to Your Back-to-School Checklist

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By Lake County Health Department

In observance of National Immunizations Awareness Month in August, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is reminding parents to include immunizations on their back-to-school checklists, whether their children are heading for elementary school, high school or college.

"Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children's health," said Tony Beltran, the Health Department's Executive Director. "When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their classroom, household, and community. Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases."

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For the 2013-2014 school year, all sixth through 12th graders attending public schools in Illinois are required to have a Tdap booster shot. An increase in pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has been occurring in recent years, indicating a waning immunity from immunizations children previously received. The Tdap shot includes protection from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Students must either show proof of having received the vaccination, have an appointment to get the vaccination or have an approved medical or religious exemption on file. If a child received the vaccine last year, they need only show proof of having already received it.

And don't forget those college students. Even healthy young adults need to get vaccinated against diseases like the flu, whooping cough and HPV (human papilloma virus). Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for students who will be living in dorms. Students may need other vaccines depending on factors such as their childhood vaccination history, travel plans and their personal health status and risks. Parents should consult with the healthcare providers of their children to determine their individual needs.

For more information on immunizations, visit: http://health.lakecountyil.gov/Population/Pages/Immunizations.aspx

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