The United States has one of the world’s safest and most effective immunization programs. Yet our immunization rates, while good, could be even better. Why is this important? Because immunizations protect infants and children during their most vulnerable stages in life, and help shield them from potentially life-threatening diseases. Ensuring that protective immunizations are up-to-date is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give!
In Iowa, children who attend child care centers or are enrolled in school must show their immunization records to attend any facilities licensed by the state. The following guidelines generally apply:
- Hep A to protect against hepatitis A
- Hep B to prevent hepatitis B
- DTaP to protect against diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw) and pertussis (whooping cough)
- Flu to protect against influenza (yearly)
- Hib to protect against Haemophilus influenzae type b
- IPV to prevent polio
- MMR for measles, mumps and rubella (German measles)
- Pneumococcal to protect against pneumococcus (causes pneumonia and other diseases)
- Varicella to prevent chickenpox
If your child is moderately to severely ill at the scheduled immunization time, wait until normal health returns before seeking the required vaccinations.
If under the care of a UI Health Care provider, your child will receive vaccinations on a maintenance schedule that maximizes protection and ensures safe administration. This vaccine timetable has been studied and determined to be the best for your child, so steering away from it or altering it is discouraged.
If you need certificates of immunization or provisional certificates of immunization, your UI Health Care primary care provider will be glad to provide them upon request. Additionally, your child’s immunization records are available via MyChart®, a secure web-based service that allows access to personal health information anytime, anywhere.
If your child cannot be immunized for medical or religious reasons, your physician can provide a certificate of immunization exemption.
It is a good idea to keep a copy of your child’s immunization records as proof of vaccination. For one thing, these records would avoid the need for re-vaccination if the original copies were ever lost or destroyed. For another, children may well appreciate having records as they enter adulthood.
Adverse reactions to immunizations are rare and the risk of complications is far less than the risk to children and the community from not being immunized. In fact, the more people in a community who are immunized against potentially life-threatening diseases, the less likely an outbreak will occur. Public health specialists call this concept “herd immunity.” For more information on vaccine safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thanks to immunizations, diseases such as polio, mumps, and diphtheria are unusual. But being immunized against potentially dangerous childhood diseases should still be a top priority.
Be sure to visit your UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital primary care provider to receive additional information about childhood immunizations. The Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are other useful resources.