By Sallie James
Shopping for new clothes, stocking up on school supplies and picking out edgy new backpacks are some of the back-to-school rituals kids look forward to every year. Making sure their childhood vaccines are up-to-date is equally important and required by Florida law.
Children can’t start school unless they receive all vaccines against nine contagious and potentially fatal childhood diseases. School shots are especially important for children entering kindergarten and seventh grade because different requirements begin at those grade levels.
“Vaccination is the best way to protect the health of your children and our community,” said Dr. Paula Thaqi, Director of the Department of Health in Broward. “Vaccines are safe and effective. Back to school time is a great opportunity to make sure vaccinations are up to date.”
The best choice is to have the children vaccinated by your family doctor. But if that isn’t possible, you can visit county offices of the Florida Department of Health. DOH will be offering free immunizations at the Lauderhill Mall at 1267 NW 40 Ave. from August 5th-16th. The immunization campaign will include a back-to-school Resource Fair at the mall on August 10 and Coral Springs parents are welcome to attend.
Children in Broward County get most of their vaccines from their healthcare provider. DOH-Broward also provides vaccines at the Edgar Mills Health Center at 900 NW 31st Avenue in Fort Lauderdale and the Paul Hughes Healthcare Center at 205 NW 6th Avenue in Pompano Beach centers (appointments 954-467-4705).
Vaccinations required for school include:
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) – 4-5 doses of DTaP for babies and pre-schoolers. 1 booster dose, TDaP, before seventh grade.
Polio – 3-5 doses for babies and pre-schoolers.
Measles, mumps, rubella (German measles) – 2 doses of MMR for babies and pre-schoolers.
Varicella (chickenpox) – 2 doses for babies and pre-schoolers. 1 booster dose before seventh grade.
Hepatitis B – 3 doses for babies.
Parents are encouraged to consider additional vaccinations recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. These include vaccines against flu (yearly starting at age six months), rotavirus (3 doses for babies), Haemophilus influenzae B (3-4 doses for babies), pneumococcal disease (4 doses for babies), hepatitis A (2 doses for babies), human papilloma virus (2-3 doses starting at age 11) and meningococcal disease (2 doses starting at age 11).
DOH-Broward – Shots will be administered during the DOH’s Back to School campaign at the Lauderhill Mall per the following schedule:
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. August 5th – 9th and August 12th-16th
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.: August 5th, 8th, 12th, and 14th.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: August 10th during the Back to School Resource Fair.
Information is available online at broward.floridahealth.gov.