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Students get shots for school

As the countdown until the first day of a new school year marches on, county health officials are focusing on a different count – the number of children who receive vaccinations.

Thursday, August 12, 1999

As the countdown until the first day of a new school year marches on, county health officials are focusing on a different count – the number of children who receive vaccinations.

Although schools require certain vaccinations before admitting students, the necessary series of shots should begin much earlier than a few weeks before school starts, said Paula Curtis, Lawrence County Health Department Registered Nurse.

"There is a series of immunizations that starts when a baby is 2 months old," Ms. Curtis said. "Prior to that, they receive their immunities from their mother."

The series begins with Hepatitis B shots, which are given in three different doses that should be completed by the time a child is 6 months old, she said.

Next, the children need dtaP injections for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, followed by polio vaccinations, two of which are injections, she said. The final two polio vaccinations are now administered orally.

"When the child is 2 months old, 4 months old and 6 months old, they should receive the HIB immunization shots, which is for a type of influenza that can lead to meningitis," she added. "When they are 12 months old, they can have their first MMR, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella."

Finally, at 15 months, the child is old enough to have a second dtaP and a chicken pox vaccine, she said.

"One thing that people need to be really aware of is that these vaccinations are a lot safer than the children getting the disease," Ms. Curtis said. "People think: ‘It’s just the chicken pox,’ but we get reports from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and there are cases where the children die because they have the chicken pox."

When school gets ready to start each fall, several parents bring their children in for the next round of immunizations, which is the best thing to do, she said.

"For kindergarten entry, they want the children to have had a total of five dtaPs, four HIBs, four polios, a second mmr and one chicken pox vaccine," she explained. "The children should be caught up with the earlier vaccinations by the time they are 2 years old."

School regulations, however, are not the most important reasons for ensuring a child receives proper vaccinations, she added.

"If these vaccinations weren’t necessary, we wouldn’t have these federal immunization programs," Ms. Curtis said. "It’s very necessary, and it’s hard for people to remember what scourges these diseases were for children at one time, but these diseases are still very dangerous to children."

For a small administrative fee of $5 for those who can afford it, the county health department will provide vaccinations for children.

The shots are administered the first Tuesday of each month at the health department office in Ironton. Other clinics include the first Wednesday of each month at the First Christian Church in Chesapeake and every Monday at the Lawrence County Early Childhood Development Center in South Point.

"We are working on an immunization grant, and if we receive them, we will target more areas out in the county for our clinics," she said. "Hopefully, that will give more people in the county the opportunity to get their child’s vaccinations caught up. We really want to protect all the children in the county; it’s worth it for the child’s health."