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First Posted: 8/29/2014

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, students must receive tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), hepatitis B and varicella vaccinations before their first day of class. For seventh grade, they’ll also need to have the meningococcal conjugate and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) vaccines.

In our region, which has the highest number of people over age 65 and many children being cared for by grandparents, it is important to protect them by vaccinating our youngsters.

Effects of these illness and some important notes about them:

  • Tetanus/Lockjaw: Painful tightening of muscles. Often fatal (up to 20 percent of cases). Acquired by deep puncture of nail or knife.
  • Pertussis: Shaking, paroxsyms of coughing fits, robs the sufferer of oxygen, especially deadly for infants.
  • Diptheria: Breathing trouble because of thick coating in back of nose or mouth. Airborne spread.

  • Polio: Paralysis, breathing problems and death. Respiratory spread, increasing globally.
  • Measles: Ear infections, pneumonia and encephalitis. Contagious virus.
  • Mumps: Complications include meningitis and inflammation of testes or ovaries. Spread by cough and sneezing.
  • Rubella: Mild virus but dangerous. Spread by cough and sneezing.
  • Hepatitis B: Liver damage, cancer or cirrhosis. Blood borne.
  • Varicella: Chicken pox blister -ike rash, itching, tiredness. Touching or breathing in the particles spreads, very dangerous to pregnant women and asthma sufferers.
  • Meningitis: Inflammation of lining of brain and spinal cord with bacteria. Can spread and kill quickly.

The Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the HPV or Human Papilloma Virus vaccine, also called Gardisil for adolescents. It is usually started at 11 years and a second shot is required at 12 years for immunity. It prevents cervical cancer and genital warts for girls and boys respectively. It is also believed to reduce cancer of the throat.

Adults need to be vaccinated and receive boosters, especially with Tdap, MMR, Hepatitis B, Varicella. Vaccines work by training the body’s own immune system to fight stronger and harder the next time it is exposed. By protecting ourselves and our children we can prevent an epidemic from taking hold of our entire community.

Good health to all as we begin another school year.

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