Get Vaccinated for a Healthy Back-to-school Start

three children with book bags waiting for school bus

It won't be long before the new school year begins and students head back to the classroom - if they haven't already. Protect your children by making sure they are up to date with vaccinations. In fact, your state may require children entering school to be vacinated against certain diseases. Check with your child's doctor, your child's school, or your health department to find out. 

Some diseases that are preventable through vaccines, such as whooping cough and chickenpox, are still common in the US. Thanks to vaccines, some other diseases are no longer common. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if we stopped vaccinating, the few cases we have in the US could very quickly grow to tens or hundreds of thousands. Getting your child’s vaccinations on time helps protect your child and your communities and schools from outbreaks.

According to the CDC, children newborn through age 6 need vaccines to protect them from 14 serious diseases, including polio, measles, and tetanus. Children and teens ages 7 to 18 need booster shots because some vaccine doses wear off over time. They may also be more at risk for certain diseases like meningococcal disease, and need the protection vaccines provide. Check with your child’s doctor to be sure.

Millions of children are safely vaccinated each year. The most common side effects are typically very mild, such as pain or swelling at the injection site. Some people have suggested that vaccines may be linked to autism. However, numerous scientists and researchers have reached the same conclusion: that there is no link between any vaccines and autism.

Flu vaccines

The best way to keep from getting the flu is to get a vaccination. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated every year, with only very rare exceptions. Generally, the only people who should not be vaccinated with the flu shot are those who’ve had a severe reaction to a flu vaccination in the past or any ingredient used in the vaccine.

People who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome should discuss flu vaccination with their doctor. So should people who are allergic to eggs. The CDC says some people with egg allergies can safely get the vaccine. Lastly, talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine if you are not feeling well.

People with certain medical conditions, including cancer, are at a higher risk for flu-related complications. That makes it even more important for cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers to get the seasonal flu vaccination. Cancer patients and survivors who think they have the flu, or have been near someone else who has it, should call their doctor right away. Doctors can’t cure the flu, but they can prescribe antiviral drugs that help you get better faster. If you’re in active treatment for cancer, check with your doctor before getting the flu shot.

HPV vaccines

The HPV vaccine protects against human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is the major cause of cervical and several other types of cancer. HPV is also a major cause of genital warts. By protecting against HPV, the vaccine protects against these cancers and genital warts.

The vaccine is given in 3 doses. Both girls and boys should get the vaccine at age 11 or 12. Older kids and young men and women may also benefit. See the full American Cancer Society recommendations for HPV vaccination.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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