Cracking down on viruses, the Department of Health and Hospitals is preparing to enforce new regulations on vaccines for school-aged children. Getting the proper immunizations is important and this upcoming school year, meningitis and chicken pox top the priority list.
From chicken pox to meningitis, the Department of Health and Hospitals is preparing to announce three news changes to vaccination rules in time for the 2009-2010 school year. The first two changes: one, children ages four and up entering kindergarten must have at least two doses of the chicken pox vaccine in addition to their regular immunizations; and two, the same rules now apply to students entering pre-k and head start programs.
Dr. Frank Welch, DHH Director of Immunization says, “Most people don’t know this, but if we weren’t to have chicken pox vaccines, about 15-20% of children wouldn’t make it through childhood without becoming exposed to the chicken pox virus and then in adolescence or early adulthood if you get chicken pox it could be a very serious disease and can kill adolescences.” Dr. Welch says the chicken pox vaccine can now protect children all the way into adulthood, preventing serious diseases or infections like shingles.
The third change is with meningitis shots. Normally children don’t have to worry about this vaccine until college, but several deadly outbreaks over the last 10 years have caused a change in that rule. “Any student that has obtained the age of 11 years, entering six grade need to be immunized against meningitis.”
The East Baton Rouge school system says that all students currently enrolled are up to date with their immunizations and they’re already making preparations to keep the ball rolling for the next school year.
Dr. Welch says having the proper vaccinations cannot only save your child’s life, but can also help keep you from paying extra doctor fees if your child were to get sick.