Importance of Preschool Immunizations
‘Even though most infants and toddlers have received all recommended vaccines by age 2, many under-immunized children remain, leaving the potential for outbreaks of disease. During the first 19 weeks of 2011, 118 cases of measles were reported in the United States, the highest number for the same period in any year since 1996, and hospitalization rates were high (40%). Importations accounted for 46 (40%) cases, including 34 (74%) cases among U.S. residents who had recently traveled abroad, among 105 import-associated cases.
High 2-dose MMR vaccine coverage is critical for decreasing the risk for reestablishment of endemic measles transmission after importation of measles into the United States. Before any international travel, infants aged 6–11 months should receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine and persons aged ≥12 months should receive 2 doses of MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart or have other evidence of immunity to measles.
It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it. Vaccines prevent disease in the people who receive them and protect those who come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
It's true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but babies are now protected by vaccines, so we do not see these diseases as often.
Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the measles virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Also protected, therefore, are people who received a vaccine, but who have not developed immunity. In addition, people who are sick will be less likely to be exposed to disease germs that can be passed around by unvaccinated children. Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.
The preschool director has the ultimate responsibility for immunization matters; he/she may delegate many immunization matters to a staff member(s). Children not in compliance with state immunization requirements or those who fall more than 30 days behind the recommended immunization schedule may be excluded
Be sure immunization-tracking software (if being used) will separate immunization records into “complete,” “conditional,” “exempt,” and “out-of-compliance” categories; list which immunizations a student needs and when they are due; and produce annual status reports.
Educating coworkers and parents about the importance of immunizations. School nurses, health assistants, and secretaries can help protect students against serious diseases by encouraging full and timely immunization. School personnel are an important and trusted source of information about immunization. Take advantage of enrollment and Kindergarten Round-Up to communicate with parents about their children’s CIS, state immunization laws, and school requirements, and the importance of immunizations. Help parents understand that:
Vaccines and Immunizations - CDC
The National Immunization Program of the U.S. Center for Disease Control offers printable versions of the Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule. Keep track of immunizations due and a history of immunizations received with Child Immunization Software from Procare.
National Network for Immunization Information - NNii
The National Network for Immunization Information provides up-to-date, science-based information for everyone who needs to know the facts about vaccines and immunizations.
State by State Immunization Info: Look up immunization information specific to your State at: http://www.procaresoftware.com/Resources.aspx.