Maine CDC Press Release

August 24, 2007

Back to School Checklist: Don’t Forget Your Child’s Immunizations

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH (207)-287-3270
Or John Martins, Director
Employee and Public Communications (207) 287-5012

AUGUSTA - “As our children are getting ready to return to school, there is an important item we should all have on our back to school checklist – immunizations,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC.

“Immunizations are one of the top public health successes of the last 100 years, being one of the largest contributors to the expansions in life expectancy. In fact, smallpox, which killed more people in the 20th Century than all that century’s wars combined, was eliminated by 1980 because of the vaccine. Polio, whose epidemics instilled fear in millions of children, was also eliminated in the Western Hemisphere because of the vaccine. And, more recently, types of bacterial meningitis that once stole children from their families are now virtually eliminated because of a vaccine,” explained Dr. Mills.

“Vaccines are safe,” added Dr. Mills. “The proteins that make up the main ingredient of many of them are now more purified than ever before. The vast majority of vaccines, including almost all early childhood vaccines, are now available in preservative-free formulations. Thimerosal, a once common preservative in vaccines, is now rarely found in more than trace amounts in childhood vaccines.”

Immunizations required for licensed daycare entry include:
• Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus
• Measles/Mumps/Rubella
• Poliomyelitis
• Hemophilus influenza Type B
• Hepatitis B
• Pneumococcal conjugate
• Varicella

Immunizations required for school entry, starting in elementary school include:
• Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus
• Measles/Mumps/Rubella
• Poliomyelitis
• Varicella

Immunizations required for postsecondary school entry include:
• Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus
• Measles/Mumps/Rubella

Additional immunizations that are recommended for children, but not required for school entry include:
• Influenza vaccine on a yearly basis
• Hepatitis B
• Hib (Hemophilus Influenza B)
• Meningococcal vaccine
• Pneumococcal vaccine
• Hepatitis A
• Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Some recent changes in immunization are new vaccines being recommended for adolescents. Pertussis vaccine used to be indicated for children younger than 8 years old but a new pertussis vaccine is recommended for children 11 years and older to reduce increased cases of the disease reported from that group of population. A new meningococcal vaccine with a long immunity against the disease is recommended for children 11-12 years old children and college bound young adults. Most recently, human papilloma virus is recommended for female adolescents and young adults for preventing them from cervical cancer.

Also, rotavirus vaccine for infants is the newest recommended vaccine in the childhood vaccine list. Parents may consider it before sending their infants to daycares.

More information on childhood vaccines can be found at www.mainepublichealth.gov. “In the meantime, while we are busy checking back-to-school lists, let’s make sure our children’s vaccine list is up to date as well,” concluded Dr. Mills.