Health Officials Urge Parents To Vaccinate Before School

Dr. Jean Heisler believes that vaccines for children heading back to school are crucial for the well-being of themselves and those around them.

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It is hard to believe that summer is drawing to a close for area students. New shoes, pencils and notebooks are at the top of back-to-school shopping lists.

But area health officials encourage parents to add one more item to that list…updating your child’s shot records.

Dr. Jean Heisler believes that vaccines for children heading back to school are crucial for the well-being of themselves and those around them.

“The Center For Disease Control (CDC) recommended vaccines are critically important to preventing serious outbreaks of certain vaccine preventable diseases,” she says.

South Dakota is one of four states that do not mandate T-dap, which prevents whooping cough, and meningitis vaccinations.

“There’s just been a little resistance in Pierre for mandating the T-dap vaccine and meningitis,” added Heisler.

But some refuse to vaccinate their children for other health reasons.

Because children aren’t eligible for the T-dap and meningitis shots until age 11, the chances that they can be affected increases over time. So, if one child is not vaccinated, they have the potential to affect many more. Something Heisler finds quite alarming.

“The minute we get below a certain level of vaccinating our population,” she adds, “these vaccine preventable diseases will come roaring back.”

You may remember the measles outbreak this past year. Heisler says those kinds of outbreaks can become more common.

“It follows states that loosen their laws for vaccine requirements for school age kids.”

While people have been on both sides of the argument, the fact still remains that it is South Dakota law to have your children properly vaccinated before returning back to school in the fall.

Amy Gage is the nursing supervisor of the Harrisburg School District.

“By vaccinating we are making sure that all of our records are current and that our children are vaccinated,” she says, “as per state law, then we’re not only protecting those children, but we’re also protecting the children that cannot receive the vaccination.”

Dr. Heisler warns to not let finances keep you from immunizing. The Falls Community Health Center offers affordable solutions for parents.