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Beat the rush for back-to-school immunizations!

Summer is a great time to bring your children in for immunizations needed for the upcoming school year. Typically, July is a month where there is not much of a wait time for back-to-school immunization appointments, unlike the late August/September appointments when there is usually a much longer wait time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccines are the most important way to protect infants, children and teenagers from harmful diseases.

Children going into kindergarten will need their fourth or fifth dose of DTaP (diptheria, tetanus and pertussis), fourth dose of IPV (inactivated polio virus), second dose of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and a second dose of varicella. The fifth dose of DTap and fourth dose of IPV can be given as a combination vaccine. The second MMR and second Varicella can also be given as a combination vaccine. Combining vaccines helps to eliminate 'pokes,' making the visit less stressful to some children.

Between seventh and eighth grades, adolescents will need to get a Tdap (tetanus, diptheria and pertussis) vaccine and their first dose of the meningococcal (protects against meningitis strains A, C, W and Y) vaccine.

During this visit, it's a great time to talk to your health care professional regarding the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine. HPV is a virus that can lead to cervical, anogenital and oral cancers in females, and anogenital and oral cancers in males. HPV can also lead to genital warts in both males and females. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females. The vaccine can be given as early as age 9 but is routinely given at ages 11-12 as a two-dose or three-dose series, depending on the age when the adolescent receives the first dose of the vaccine.

After age 16, teens will need their second dose of the meningococcal (ACWY) vaccine. Teens should also receive a meningitis B vaccine before heading off to college. Meningitis B is an additional strain in the meningitis family. The strain is particularly prevalent in the college-aged population, mainly due to living in dorms and being within close quarters of one another. The meningitis B vaccine is a two-dose series. After receiving the first dose, the teen would come back in one month or later for the second dose.

If you are unsure if your child is up to date on their immunizations, you can call the Cole County Health Department and I can assist you with your child's immunization record to determine what immunizations are needed.

At the Cole County Health Department, we offer routine immunizations Monday-Friday. Our office hours for immunizations are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, no appointment needed.

At the health department, we can bill certain private insurances for immunizations. We also have a partnership with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to help assist with vaccines. Through their Vaccines for Children program, we can administer vaccines to children age 18 or younger to ensure cost is never an issue for families.

Tara Fergerson, RN, is the immunization coordinator at the Cole County Health Department.

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