School is about to start for children throughout Indiana. While that means buying new backpacks, notebooks, and clothing, it also means that it’s time to get immunization shots to protect school-age children from preventable diseases. Immunizations are required for students attending schools in Indiana.
The Indiana State Department of Health has released a list of required immunizations for children beginning in the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. New requirements this year include two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine for those entering Kindergarten. A meningococcal booster dose is required for students entering 12th grade. The meningococcal booster dose is not required for students entering grade 12 who received dose #1 on or after their 16th birthday.
In addition to the new requirements, several vaccines on the routine immunization schedules are recommended but not required for school entry. These include two doses of Hepatitis A (for grades 1 through 12) and three doses of HPV vaccine for adolescents and teens. The Department of Health also recommends an annual flu shot for all persons over the age of 6 months.
Children who are not vaccinated may not be able to attend schools in Indiana. Parents must either have a documented medical exemption or a religious objection on file with the school. These must be filed each year. If there is an outbreak, parents unable to demonstrate that their child has immunity to the disease (either through vaccination or blood tests) will be excluded from school. An outbreak of chickenpox, for example, may last a minimum of three weeks.
Vaccinations are offered free of charge at the St. Joseph County Health Department on the 9th floor of the County-City Building in downtown South Bend, located at 227 W. Jefferson Boulevard. The walk-in clinic is available on Wednesdays until 4 pm. Appointments can also be made throughout the week.
If you are unsure of your child’s immunization history, it is advisable to check with their primary care physician or the St. Joseph County Health Department.
More information on immunizations is available on the Indiana State Department of Health’s website.