New vaccine regulations mark beginning of school year

By Julie Fann

Carter County Health Department officials said Thursday they have inoculated approximately 200-300 area seventh-graders for Hepatitis B over the past three weeks, a new state requirement that was put into effect July 1.
   "Older kids who haven't received the vaccination for Hepatitis B must now receive it. We set up clinics in the spring, and at the end of September we'll go into the county schools and administer the third dose of the vaccine," said Nursing Supervisor, Kathy Bowman.
   Also, children entering kindergarten this year were vaccinated for Varicella, or chicken pox.
   "This is the first year that it's (Varicella) been required for kindergarten entrance; if you've had the disease you don't need it (the vaccine). We will also take parent or physician history of the disease," Bowman said.
   No cases of Hepatitis B have been found in city or county schools, according to Bowman.
   The health department has spent the past three weeks getting ready for the new school year, making sure that children have received booster shots as well as physicals.
   "Most children receive their booster shots by age four, so, by the time school starts they are prepared. That keeps us from being too busy," Bowman said.
   August has been designated National Immunization Awareness Month by the National Partnership for Immunization, to remind parents and caregivers that immunization improves health and quality of life.
   Because children are particularly vulnerable to infection, most vaccines are given during the first five to six years.
   Recommended vaccinations besides Varicella and Hepatitis B1 include: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus Influenza Type B3, Inactivated Polio 4, MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), Pneumococcal, Hepatitis A, and Influenza.
   Since the start of widespread vaccinations in the U.S., the numbers of cases of some formerly common childhood illnesses like measles and pertussis (whooping cough) have dropped by 95 percent or more.
   However, according to Partners for Immunization officials, most vaccine-preventable diseases still exist in the world, although they occur rarely. Many parents, however, mistakenly believe it isn't necessary to have their child vaccinated, since so many diseases have been eradicated.
   Myths surrounding vaccination, according to health professionals, include a belief that the immunization will give children the very disease the vaccine is supposed to prevent, or that the vaccine isn't 100 percent effective.