August means vaccination season

Vaccines for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis or DTaP; Polio; measles, mumps, and rubella or MMR; and Hepatitis B are required for students of all grade levels to enter Missouri schools unless they have a medical or religious exception, which must be documented.

With the turn of the calendar from July to August, plenty of change quickly hits families. Vacations come to a halt and preparations for the new school year are in full force.

While trips to the store for school supplies, backpacks and new clothes will be plentiful, few things are certain to get lost in the shuffle. That could include doctor visits for vaccinations.

Schools require students to have up-to-date immunization documentation before the first day of school, providing a potential stressful final week before school for those that may have allowed immunizations to slip through the cracks. There is, however, a four-day grace period before the due date to allow for appointments to arrive, according to a document provided by the Clay County Public Health Center.

Doris Egli, CCPHC lead immunizations nurse, said there aren’t many new changes to this year’s required shots.

“Missouri instituted two doses of chicken pox through the ninth grade,” she said. “Last year, it was through the eighth grade. Varicella was two doses required through eighth grade, and over the next three years it will be required through 12th grade.

“But there’s always potential outbreak of measles,” she added. “Not so much in Missouri, but in other states there’s been measles outbreaks, so that’s always very contagious and we like to see that not spread.”

The following vaccines are required across all grade levels for the state: DTaP or Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis; Polio; measles, mumps, and rubella or MMR; and Hepatitis B.

The biggest difference between what is required at grade levels come with the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and meningococcal vaccines, which is not required until the eighth grade. One dose is required between the eighth and 12th grades, with the exception of two doses of MCV for seniors. Another difference is the dosage of Varicella. Grades kindergarten through ninth require two doses, while only one dose is necessary for those in grades 10 to 12.

There are other vaccinations that are not required, but highly recommended.

“Anytime a teenager comes in we recommend getting the meningitis B vaccine,” Egli said. “There had been some outbreaks of meningitis B, which is separate from that. ... They’re highly recommended for age 16 years and older.

“The pertussis part of the DTaP is whooping cough and that’s very contagious as well. We highly recommend, including adults, be updated on that,” she added. “We also highly recommend the HPV vaccine to help prevent cervical cancers and genital warts in girls. Also, throat cancers, penile cancers and anal cancer in boys. It’s two doses if they get it between 11 and 14 years of age and then three doses if they start after age 15.”

For those who are uninsured, underinsured or on Medicaid, the Vaccine For Children federal program has been around since 1994.

“Anyone that’s a VFC provider, which Clay County is,” Egli said, “we’re allowed to charge an administration fee but no cost for the vaccines themselves, which can be pricey. It’s a really good program.”

For more details on the children’s program, call Clay County Public Health at 595-4200.

Sports Editor Adam Burns can be reached at or 389-6643.

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