Health Watch -- Back-to-School Shots

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Before you go back-to-school shopping, maybe you should visit your doctor for another back-to-school errand.

We may be in the middle of summer, but the new school year is just around the corner. While you're buying new clothes and notebooks, doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say it's a good time to visit your doctor to make sure children's vaccinations are up to date.

Dr. Jane Siegel, a UT Southwestern pediatric infectious disease expert, says vaccinations can keep your children and the children around them healthy. If your children have been immunized, they're less likely to catch many serious illnesses, and that also makes them less likely to spread diseases to others.

We've made great strides in recent decades to prevent diseases that used to kill many children - such as mumps, measles and polio. But with these diseases less widespread and causing fewer deaths due to vaccination programs, parents are apparently not seeing immunization as very urgent. As a result, immunization rates are dropping in some areas, and we've seen outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles.

If getting your children to the doctor for their shots seems like a hassle, think of the time you'll save if they don't get sick - they'll miss less time at school, and you'll miss less time at work. Most importantly, they'll avoid the potentially life-threatening complications and permanent after-effects of some of these diseases.

Talk to your pediatrician about the vaccination schedule for your children - what shots they need and when they need them.


Aug. 2004

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