Back-to-school season is here, time for parents to gather supplies and backpacks. It’s also the perfect time to make sure kids are up-to-date on their vaccines.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and spreading illnesses to others in the classroom and community, health officials say.
To celebrate the importance of immunizations for people of all ages and ensure children are protected with all the vaccines they need as they go back to school, Spokane Regional Health
District’s Immunization Outreach program is joining local providers and partners in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month .
It is an important time to celebrate and bring awareness to today’s childhood vaccines, which protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases including polio, measles, whooping cough and influenza. Vaccinations also help prevent outbreaks like Spokane’s recent mumps outbreak that ended in July with 334 cases and several documented complications of the disease in children and adults.
Despite this outbreak, SRHD Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz stated, “Last school year, 88 percent of our students, grades K-12, were up to date for all school-required vaccines. Our community deserves praise for protecting its health with these rates. We’re excited to build on this momentum during National Immunization Awareness Month.”
CHAS Health is also conducting two no-cost immunization clinics at Cheney School District health fairs, one on Monday, Aug. 14, at Cheney Middle School (740 Betz Road., Cheney, WA 99004) from 3 - 6 p.m., and the other on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at Westwood Middle School (6120 S. Abbott Road., Spokane, WA 99224) from 3:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
“Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by CDC’s immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious diseases,” Lutz said. “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check-in with your child’s provider or plan to attend one of these clinics.”
Parents are encouraged to access these easy-to-read Washington state immunization requirement charts to learn more about school-required vaccines. Parents can obtain direct access to their family’s vaccine records in the statewide immunization database -- including printing the Certificate of Immunization Status required for child care and school entry -- by registering for My Immunization Record on the Washington state Department of Health’s website.
Most pediatric, primary care, and family medicine offices, including CHAS Health and Unify Community Health, offer no-cost vaccines for kids through age 18 through the Vaccines for Children program, a federally funded U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program. Providers may charge an office visit or administration fee, but must waive the administration fee if a family is unable to pay.
For help finding a health care provider or an immunization clinic, call the WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
More information is also available at srhd.org.