Experts: Catch Up on Kids’ Immunizations During Back-to-School Season
Thursday, August 31, 2023
Health experts are urging parents to check on the status of their child's vaccinations, amid pertussis and COVID-19 outbreaks among children that have triggered school closures in some counties.
Western Kentucky Heart and Lung Research Foundation Executive Director Dr. Melinda Joyce said in addition to checking in with a pediatrician, there are many resources available to help parents get back on track when it comes to their child's immunizations.
"If someone is not sure about what immunizations are due at a particular child's age, going to your local pharmacist is a good place to start," said Joyce. "And just ask that question - 'is my child due something at this point in time?"
Parents or legal guardians can also use the online Kentucky Immunization Public Portal to obtain an official record of all of the vaccines their child has received while living in the Commonwealth.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health recently confirmed an outbreak of pertussis - also known as whooping cough - in the central part of the state.
Kelly Taulbee - director of communications and development with Kentucky Voices for Health - said it's a preventable disease, but notes some counties are seeing an uptick in cases.
"Most of the identified cases in Kentucky right now are among unvaccinated children," said Taulbee. "At least one has had to undergo hospitalization. Whooping cough might be one of those household names, but it doesn't have to be common. It doesn't have to be something we are fighting actively right now."
Joyce added that the start of the academic year often coincides with physical exams for sports, and other activities that make it an ideal time of year to focus on children's health.
"I think the beginning of the school season is a great time to think about immunizations," said Joyce, "and to say, 'What does my child need?'"
A report published this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nationwide childhood immunization rates are on the decline for vaccines that prevent measles, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and chickenpox.
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