Health Officials Say Get Shots Now

Thursday, July 5th 2007, 9:28 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State health officials are urging parents and students to interrupt their summer fun for early pre-school immunization shots.

While that might not be a favorite thing to do during vacation time, getting shots early can help prevent long lines at health departments and medical offices, officials said Thursday.

``August is the busiest month of the year for immunizations and doctors' offices and county health departments will often be swamped,'' said Susan Mendus, education director for the immunization division of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Children entering kindergarten are required to be immunized against a wide range of childhood diseases. Additional vaccines are recommended for some older children and college students.

``Vaccinating your children against preventable diseases is one of the most important things a parent or caregiver can do for a child,'' said Dr. Mark Crutcher, state health commissioner.

``We want to remind everyone that this is one way you can contribute to making Oklahoma a safer and healthier state in which to live, work and travel. Take the time to schedule your children today for their back-to-school vaccinations.''

State law requires students to receive vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis A, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox.

Children moving in from other states may not have the hepatitis A vaccination, but will need to be immunized against the disease to attend state schools.

Even though not required to attend school, parents are urged to get a second dose to protect against chicken pox for children 11 or older, plus boosters to protect against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.

Also recommended for those children are immunizations against meningitis and blood stream infections for all students and the human papillomavirus vaccine for girls to prevent two types of virus that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer.

College students are required to be vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella and for hepatitis B. First-time enrollees who will reside on campus must have the meningitis vaccine.

Mendus said parents with insurance, including Medicaid coverage, should contact their local doctors. Those without insurance should contact their county health departments.

Officials say any questions should be directed at the state health agency's immunization division at 405-271-4073.