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What you need to know about back-to-school immunizations

Is your child up-to-date on vaccines?

Pencils and binders aren’t the only things students need as they prepare to return to school. Children entering kindergarten or seventh grade are required by Utah law to receive certain immunizations before classes begin again. This is not only meant to protect the child themselves, but the other children, teachers, staff, and volunteers with which they interact in close proximity throughout the school day.

In Utah, each student should be protected through immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); polio, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Varicella (chickenpox). For seventh graders, the same immunizations are required, along with the Tdap and meningitis vaccines. This is also a great time to ask your doctor about catching up on other needed vaccines, such as the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) cancer prevention vaccine for teens.

Tamara Sheffield, MD, Intermountain Healthcare Community Health and Prevention medical director, said this requirement ensures health safety for children and their families. “Community immunity is a key to protect you from others and protect others from any diseases that you may have,” Sheffield said. “Ultimately, the immunizations are required to help everyone be healthy and to reduce preventable diseases in our schools and communities."

Parents may obtain an exemption form for those children who claim an exception to immunization for medical, religious, or personal reasons from their local health department office.

For questions regarding your child’s immunization status, contact your child’s healthcare provider, your local health department, or see or U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Immunization Action Coalition websites.

You can also join Intermountain Healthcare experts on Tuesday, August 14 as they discuss children’s health, including immunizations, on KUTV and Intermountain Healthcare’s Ask the Expert program. Tips and suggestions will be offered throughout the day on Channel 2, with nurses, doctors, and other medical experts providing interviews during news and other broadcasts.

If you have your own questions, the panel of experts will be answering your phone calls from noon to 5:30 p.m. at 1-800-762-7262. You can also submit questions via Facebook and Twitter using #kutvasktheexpert.

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