Catch Up On Vaccines for Back-to-School

By Christina Elston

Make sure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date as school starts. PHOTO BY JAMES GATHANY, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

Make sure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date as school starts. PHOTO BY JAMES GATHANY, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

With the new school year’s arrival, it’s a good time to catch up the family’s vaccinations. Here are a few reasons it is extra important this year:

Measles has been on the rise. L.A. County has been seeing a higher-than-usual number of measles cases according to the county department of public health, which began reminding residents to catch up on their Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine in early March. Statewide, 32 people had contracted the measles as of March 14 (10 of them in L.A. County), compared with three in all of 2013. Unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles have a 90-percent chance of becoming infected.

Whooping cough continues to increase. As of June 23, the Department of Public Health was reporting 345 cases of this serious respiratory infection in Los Angeles – many of them among elementary, middle and high school students – compared with just 295 cases in all of 2013. Vaccinating adults and older children against the disease, also known as pertussis, protects them and also helps protect infants too young to be vaccinated. Health experts recommend that all pregnant women receive a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) booster because this provides their newborn with some pertussis immunity.

And don’t forget about the flu. The 2013-14 flu season was fairly nasty in California, with 98 deaths in L.A. County, including a pregnant South Bay woman and her unborn baby, who died in February. No matter what the upcoming season holds, influenza is something to take seriously. But there is good news for kids ages 2 to 8. In June, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel recommended that these children be given the nasal spray flu vaccine, rather than a flu shot. Research has shown that the nasal spray offers this age group more effective flu protection. If nasal spray vaccine isn’t available, a traditional flu shot will do the trick, and is recommended yearly for everyone ages 6 months and up, with very few exceptions.

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