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Time to think vaccinations | Family

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Time to think vaccinations
Family, Health, Schools

With the new Washington Unified District school year starting Aug. 21, California Department of Public Health Director and state public health officer Dr. Ron Chapman, is encouraging West Sac parents and parents throughout California make sure their children are fully immunized before classes start.

"Immunizations are a safe and effective way to help our kids stay healthy in school and protect them from vaccine-preventable illnesses that can be very serious and have lifelong consequences," said Chapman in a news release. "As families make plans for heading back to school, those plans should include making sure their children are up-to-date on required immunizations for school, including an adolescent whooping cough booster shot (Tdap) for incoming 7th graders."

Schools are required to verify each child's immunization record to ensure all shots and boosters are completed before entry to kindergarten and 7th grade, he said. Kindergartners need a total of five DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), four polio, three hepatitis B, two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and one varicella (chickenpox) shot.  Kindergarten boosters for DTaP, polio and MMR are given at 4 or 5 years of age. Since 1962, California has required certain vaccinations for incoming kindergartners. In 2012-2013, nearly 90 percent (almost 500,000 California kindergarten entrants) were fully immunized, with the remainder typically behind on only one or a few required vaccines, said Chapman. In addition, he said, since a new California law was signed in 2010, students entering 7th grade will need to show proof of the whooping cough (pertussis) booster before starting school.

Chapman urges parents, "Make an appointment with their provider now" to protect themselves and their families "and to ensure kids start school on time."

If a child does not have health insurance, or is only partially insured, a doctor or the Yolo County Health Department can provide information about the CDC's Vaccines for Children Program. The program provides free or low-cost immunizations. Information about Yolo County health insurance for children is available through the Yolo County Children's Alliance. Contact Executive Director Katie Villegas at Katie.Villegas@yolocounty.org.

Some area health departments are offering expanded immunization clinics during August as part of National Immunization Awareness Month, said Chapman . To find out if the Yolo County Health Department is sponsoring immunization clinics in West Sacramento, call (530) 666-8645, or contact Yolo County Supervisor (representing West Sacramento) Mike McGowan at (916) 375-6440 or mike.mcgowan.yolocounty.org.

To learn more about immunizations required for school entry, visit shotsforschool.org .

E-mail West Sac news and events to 3bogart@gmail.com.

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