With guest blogger, Dr. Brandon Emery of Lexington Pediatric Practice, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice
This time of year makes us think of new backpacks, freshly sharpened pencils and stylish pairs of bright sneakers. But before you send your child back to school, be sure they’re up to date on important vaccinations.Children ages 10 to 11 should receive a whooping cough (pertussis) booster through the Tdap vaccine. Whooping cough is bacterial infection with violent coughing fits marked by a “whoop” sound while gasping for breath. Children are usually vaccinated for whooping cough as young children. The vaccine provides excellent immunity but decreases over time. That makes older children, teenagers and adults more likely to contract whooping cough and spread it to others.
Around age 11, children should also receive a vaccine for meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the protective membrane around the brain and spinal cord. While the disease is rare, it can be deadly. Symptoms of meningitis are a high fever, severe headaches, and neck stiffness along with altered mental status, sensitivity to light, and vomiting. Teenagers should receive a meningitis booster again between the ages of 16 and 18, before attending college. The disease is known to spread among individuals who live close to each other, such as in a college dorm.
Additionally, children who are 11 can receive a hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease. Patients catch it when they come in contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by an infected person.
Finally, parents of school-age children should also make sure that their children have had two rounds of the chicken pox vaccine or have immunity. Boys and girls during adolescence should receive an HPV vaccine to prevent several forms of cancer.
For more information about these vaccines, call your doctor or Lexington Pediatric Practice at (803) 359 – 8855. LexPediatricPractice.com