By Lamia Kadir, M.D.
Brushy Creek Family Physicians
As summer vacation draws to an end, lunches, school buses, and homework will soon replace swimsuits, road trips, and television. For those family physicians who see pediatric patients, sports physicals and well child checks are aplenty. It is our responsibility to remind our patients and their parents of the importance of routine immunizations. As we all know, prevention of disease is essential for both patient health and control of medical costs.
The national vaccine immunization program is one of the most successful examples of effective preventive care in the U.S. Want some powerful examples? How about the marked decrease in cases of invasive haemophilus influenzae type b infection since the introduction of HIB conjugate vaccines in December 1987? The number of cases in children younger than five years of age declined by more than 99 percent by 2000. Here’s another: In 1979, the global eradication of smallpox was announced, one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, made possible by the advent of the smallpox vaccine.
Vaccine requirements for school entry vary from state to state. Coverage is high among kids entering school, in part because of state laws that require proof of vaccinations before students can enter school. For an up-to-date resource, the Texas Department of State Health Services has posted their 2013-2014 vaccine requirements for K-12 at www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/school/.
All immunizations should be completed by the first day of school. The immunization schedule coincides well with routine physical exams, such as the 4-to-6-year visit before kindergarten and the 11-to-12-year visit before seventh grade.
An additional resource you can provide your patients at well child checks is a personal, customized immunization schedule through the CDC, found at www2a.cdc.gov/nip/kidstuff/newscheduler_le/. It allows you or the parent to input the child’s date of birth and print out a customized schedule from 0-to-12 years.
Let’s help our children get back to school healthy! Don’t forget to remind your patients to get the influenza vaccine as soon as it is available.