Back to school vaccines

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COLUMBIA- August is approaching quickly, meaning it’s time to make sure your children have the proper immunizations before going back to school. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services requires students entering the eighth and 12th grades to have received two immunizations. Eighth graders are required to have both the Tdap and Meningitis vaccines. 12th grade students are also required to have the Meningitis vaccine.

Tdap protects against Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis. The Meningitis vaccine protects against bacteria that is spread through bodily fluids like coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing anything by mouth.

“The meningitis vaccine, ideally a student would get their first dose around 11 or 12 or before they enter the 8th grade, and then they need that second dose before they go into 12th grade, but if they didn’t get that first dose they just need a dose of meningitis vaccine after they turn 16,” said Trina Teacutter, nursing supervisor for Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services reminds parents to check their children’s immunization records to make sure they have not already received these vaccines.

“Some of the vaccines that are required, some people get those at their 11 or 12 year old well child visit. If you are a parent who hasn’t had a well child visit with your child at that time frame you may not have had those vaccines, but it is important to check your vaccine records and check with your provider to see if those vaccines have been given,” said Teacutter.

While these vaccines are required by the state, families who do not vaccinate their children may fill out an exemption.

“There is a process for exempting if you’re a family choosing not to vaccinate. You have to have an exemption on file with the school system,” said Teacutter.

The department does have a list of other immunizations they recommend students get before going back to school.

“There are also some vaccinations that are recommended for this particular age group, adolescence in particular. One in particular is the HPV vaccine which protects against cervical cancers, penile cancers, throat cancers as well as we always ask parents to make sure that their students had a second dose of the chicken pox vaccine, if they’ve only had one, we also have them look at their Hepatitis A vaccination and make sure that they get that if they haven’t already received that as well,” said Teacutter.

Students can receive vaccines from their medical provider, but the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services does offer vaccines as well. They are offered Monday through Friday from 8am-4:30pm in their office, and no appointment is needed.