Washtenaw County Health Urges Parents to Vaccinate Children Before School

 07/11/2017 - 23:06

Children entering licensed childcare programs, preschool, kindergarten or seventh grade, or who are new to a school district, must have up-to-date immunizations records or waivers before entering school in the fall. Hearing and vision screenings are also required for children starting preschool or kindergarten. Call Washtenaw County Public Health at 734-544-6700 for information or to schedule these appointments before the back-to-school rush.

“These immunization requirements exist to prevent the spread of disease, injury and death in the community,” says Jessie Kimbrough Marshall, MD, MPH, medical director for Washtenaw County Public Health. “Immunizations protect everyone’s health, including the health of our babies, elders and those with compromised health who can’t be vaccinated.”

Vaccination rates have been rising locally, but still only 82 percent of Washtenaw County children 19 to 35 months old had completed all recommended vaccines in 2016. That number was 77 percent for adolescents 13 to 17 years old.

If your child or children are not up-to-date on their vaccinations, make an appointment with their pediatrician. For children with Medicaid or no insurance, Washtenaw County Public Health offers free or low cost vaccines. Find a list of required vaccines for preschool and childcare here, and for school here.

Michigan parents or guardians opting out of the vaccinations required for their children must request a nonmedical waiver from their local public health department. In Washtenaw County, Washtenaw County Public Health is providing the required educational sessions. Waivers are only required for children entering licensed childcare programs, preschool, kindergarten, seventh grade or who are new to a school district. If you plan to request an immunization waiver for the 2017-18 school year, schedule an appointment at 734-544-6700 at your earliest convenience.

“The waiver education session is an opportunity for parents to get answers to their questions regarding vaccine use, safety, ingredients, and more,” says Christina Zilke, RN, immunizations coordinator at Washtenaw County Public Health. “Our nurses take the time to make the visit personal and informative based on the family’s needs. Our hope is to give parents information and resources to make an informed decision about their child’s health.”

Families only need one waiver appointment for any school year, even if they have multiple children who need waivers that year. Children do not have to go to the waiver appointments.

For children entering preschool or kindergarten, hearing and vision screenings are also required. Young children may not realize they have a hearing or vision problem. Make sure they can see, hear and are ready to learn before school starts.

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