The academic year hasn’t even started and already several students at the University of Texas at Austin have been stricken with the mumps. Those are just the most recent cases; this year, there have been outbreaks at various public schools throughout the state.
In fact, according to the CDC, Texas has experienced more than 300 cases of mumps so far in 2017, one of only four states to reach such a high number. It’s been decades since the state has been stricken this hard. Being a strong athlete doesn’t mean immunity to disease; a couple of football players were among those who caught the mumps at UT.
Texas has been spared the measles so far this year, but nationwide, there was a significant increase in the number of cases of this dangerous and highly contagious disease, the CDC reports. More than half of those were in Minnesota; by now, most people have heard about the outbreak in the state’s Somali community, where anti-vaccine activists persuaded parents to believe the thoroughly discredited claim that the vaccine is associated with autism. Most of the victims were children younger than 10, including toddlers.
In other words, whether your baby is headed to preschool, kindergarten or college this fall, vaccine-preventable diseases can lurk at school, in dorms and in the community at large. The very best way to minimize the chances of these illnesses is to get children and teens fully vaccinated according to the schedule laid out by the CDC.
Don’t wait too long to schedule those back-to-school checkups, either. Closer to the start of school, doctors are swamped with requests for appointments, which include updating kids on all the necessary vaccines.
Those include the measles-mumps-rubella and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis shots for the youngest among us; the Tdap boosters and cancer-preventing human papillomavirus vaccines for preteenagers; and boosters against meningococcal disease for teenagers. And annual flu shots for children older than 6 months and adults even into our years as senior citizens!
You or your children haven’t gotten all the necessary shots up to this point? No worries. The CDC also provides schedules to help you catch up. All the schedules are easy to find by looking in the “Resources” section of our Parents page, right here on the TIP website. And of course, ask your doctor.
The first week of August is the kickoff for National Immunization Awareness Month, the perfect time to reflect on protecting our families as part of our back-to-school routine.
Texans are smart. Overall, the state’s immunization rates for its children and college students are high. But the number of parents who decide to exempt their children from the required vaccines, without having a medical reason for doing so, has been rising at a worrisome rate. In addition, the latest data show pockets of low vaccination rates sprinkled around the state. It’s unfortunate that you, as a parent, can’t find the exemption rates for the public schools your children attend; the state collects the data, but doesn’t provide the school-by-school figures to the public.
That’s why the best way to shield your children against many diseases—and to help keep other children healthy, as well as the community at large—is with vaccines. It’s just a moment’s pinch that yields long-term protection.
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