TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

California DPH encourages childhood immunizations prior to start of school

As the new school year is quickly approaching, the California Department of Public Health encouraged parents on Monday to not wait until the fall to ensure their children are up to date on immunizations.

California schools must verify each child's immunization record to make sure all boosters and shots are completed before letting children enter kindergarten and 7th grade.

"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," Ron Chapman, the director of the CDPH and the state public health officer, said. "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."

Kindergarteners require a total of five diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis shots, four polio shots, three hepatitis B shots, two measles, mumps and rubella shots and one varicella shot. Kindergarteners receive boosters for DTaP, polio and MMR at four or five years of age. Students entering 7th grade must show proof that they received a pertussis booster.

Since 1962, California required certain vaccinations for incoming kindergarteners. In 2012-2013, close to 90 percent of kindergarten entrants were completely immunized. The remaining group was usually behind on only one or a few required immunizations.

Chapman recommended that parents make an appointment with their provider right now on how to protect themselves and their families and make sure kids start school on time.