MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Association of School Nurses (WASN), representing more than 250 members statewide, urge parents to plan ahead and have their children vaccinated early before sending them back to school. The statewide organization also expressed concern that some parents may not realize federal funding changes announced late last year require those with private immunization insurance coverage to take their children to private doctors for vaccinations rather than public health departments.
August is National Immunization Awareness month.
“Due to changes in federal funding, public health departments are no longer able to administer vaccines to children and adults with private health insurance. Parents need to determine now if their private health insurance covers immunizations, and if so, should have their children immunized by their private health care provider,” said Louise Wilson, president of WASN and Health Services Supervisor in the Beaver Dam Unified School District. “Updated immunizations should not be left to the last minute and it is important to make appointments soon to avoid stress as school start dates get closer. We want to remind parents that kindergartners will need additional doses of several vaccines, 6th graders will need Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) and both 6th and 12th graders who have not had chickenpox will need a second dose of varicella.”
WASN offers tips to make back-to-school vaccination preparation easy, including:
• Review your child’s current immunization record at the Wisconsin Immunization Registry at http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/publicaccess.htm.
• Consult your family doctor on what vaccinations your child still needs and make an appointment soon.
• If your child qualifies, contact a city or county health department to see if they have free immunization clinics. Some schools also hold their own on-site vaccination programs during school registration. Make sure you bring a copy of your child’s immunization record with you.
• Go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines to see additional facts from through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wisconsin law requires K5 through 5th graders to be immunized within 30 days after school starts or they can be excluded from school for up to 10 days or the parent fined. Wisconsin requires children be vaccinated against chicken pox, measles/mumps/rubella, hepatitis B, polio and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus. Waivers are available for religious, personal or medical reasons. Although not required by law, it is also recommended that students receive three doses of the human papilloma vaccine at 6th grade.
WASN indicates that while not required by state law, college and military bound individuals are also being encouraged to get an additional dose of the meningitis vaccine, which was originally administered only once to children.
“Vaccinations save lives and getting them done early helps keep everyone safe,” said Wilson.
The mission of WASN is to support and advance the practice of professional school nurses in Wisconsin in order to enhance the health and educational success of students. For more information please visit www.wischoolnurses.org.