Tdap clinic serves as reminder for older students to get immunized


Immunizations students should have when they start school:

■ Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine - two doses before starting any grade.

■ Hepatitis B vaccine - three doses before starting any grade.

■ Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine - five doses before starting any grade (only four doses needed if the fourth vaccine was given on or after a child’s 4th birthday).

■ Polio vaccine - four doses needed for all grades (only three doses needed if the third dose was given on or after a child’s 4th birthday).

■ Varicella vaccine - one dose or proof of chickenpox infection for incoming middle school and high school students, two doses or proof of chickenpox infection needed for elementary school students.

■ Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) booster - one dose for middle school and high school students.

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Diseases prevented by required vaccines

■ Diphtheria: A bacterial respiratory disease that causes a thick coating to form on the back of the throat and may lead to airway obstruction, coma, death.

■ Hepatitis B: A viral disease that can cause scarring, cancer or death or liver failure.

■ Measles: A viral respiratory disease that can cause rash, fever, coughing or a runny nose. Rare complications include death, encephalitis, ear infection and pneumonia.

■ Mumps: A viral disease that starts with a fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite, followed by swelling of the salivary glands. Complications include deafness and inflammation of the brain, breasts or ovaries.

■ Pertussis: A bacterial disease that begins like a cold but adds a severe cough within one to two weeks. Infants can have a pause in breathing and pneumonia may develop.

■ Polio: A viral infection that attacks the nervous system and may have no symptoms or minor fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, neck or back stiffness and limb pain. Complications may include paralysis that can cause permanent disability or death.

■ Rubella: Also called German Measles, this viral disease causes fever and rash and may cause deafness, cataracts, heart defects, mental retardation, liver or spleen damage in a fetus if a pregnant woman contracts the virus.

■ Tetanus: A nervous system disease that can begin with lockjaw, neck or abdomen stiffness and difficulty swallowing and may lead to severe muscle spasms, seizure-like activity, severe autonomic nervous system disorders or death.

■ Varicella: Also called chickenpox, this viral disease causes red, itchy blisters and can cause birth defects in pregnant women.


— Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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Pencils. Notebooks. Immunizations. They’re all on the back-to-school checklist.

Starting with kindergarten, Colorado students are expected to arrive for their first day of school immunized for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B and chickenpox or have proof they had chickenpox. Although some parents get into the flow of early childhood vaccinations, School District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said some parents need a reminder that a booster shot for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) is required for students before they start sixth grade.

“It seems like routinely we have a lot of fifth-graders who when they leave fifth-grade haven’t had that Tdap (vaccine) yet. That doesn’t mean they won’t get it before they come back in the fall,” McGee said.

This is the fifth school year the Tdap booster has been required in Colorado schools. To make the process easier for parents, the Mesa County Health Department will host walk-in Tdap immunization clinics from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 14 and 15 at the Mesa County Community Services Building at 510 29 1/2 Road in Conference Room 1060. The Tdap vaccine will be offered at the clinic for $14.50. Families should bring a child’s immunization records and, if the child has one, a Medicaid, CNIC or Rocky Mountain HMO insurance card to a walk-in clinic or immunization appointment at the Mesa County Health Department. A parent or legal guardian will have to accompany a child to an immunization appointment and sign a consent form.

Parents can call 248-6900 to make an appointment for another day if they can’t make it to the clinic Aug. 14 or 15 or schedule an appointment with their family physician.

Parents can opt out of immunizations for religious, health or personal philosophical reasons. A parent must obtain an exemption form from a school nurse or health assistant, sign it and turn it into the school if they have an objection to vaccination. In 2010-11, 4.5 percent of District 51 elementary school students opted out of immunizations, with the opt-out rate ranging from less than 1 percent of Dos Rios and Chipeta Elementary students to 9 percent of New Emerson students.

Without an exemption form or proof of either vaccination or an appointment to get vaccinated, a student can be turned away from school in accordance with Colorado law, although McGee said District 51 has never had to resort to removing an unvaccinated child from class. Students are given at least 14 days from the time they show up at school to fill out an exemption form or schedule or get proper immunizations before they would be removed from classes in District 51.

Parents can drop off immunization records starting this month at their child’s school or bring the forms to school registration. Schools will send a reminder to parents to get their children immunized if the children have not been immunized or allowed to opt out of immunization.


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