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With school about to start, it's time to get kids vaccinated

With school about to start, it's time to get kids vaccinated
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - With back-to-school time approaching quickly, the Bakersfield City School District is reminding parents of the importance of getting children vaccinated before Aug. 18.

Students starting kindergarten and seventh grade are required to have certain immunizations before they can even enter a classroom.

Debbie Wood, health coordinator of the school district, said so far this year only 47 percent of students have been vaccinated. Around this time last year, 75 percent were already vaccinated.

For those entering the seventh grade, the only required vaccine is the Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Health care providers strongly recommend seventh graders also get the meningitis and HPV vaccinations, although they are not required.

Kindergarten students have a longer list of vaccines they must receive.

Shots for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus and polio are required, said Wood.

The Kern County Health Department said that this year, 84 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have already been recorded in Kern County. Of those cases, 33 occurred in children between the ages of 10 and 19.

Dr. Joan Ying, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente, stressed the importance of booster shots like the Tdap.

"Whooping cough, although a lot of kids have been immunized previously, the immunity does go away with time," said Ying. "So, when they're re-exposed to whooping cough, they can get ill."

A person infected with whooping cough can be spread it through the air easily by sneezing, coughing and even simply breathing. If it gets to an infant, it can be deadly.

Wood recommends that all parents of kindergarten and seventh-grade students get them vaccinated immediately and take the immunization records to their child's school starting Aug. 11.

To make things easier for busy parents, drugstores, including Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS, will be offering the booster shots.

"Depending on if you have insurance of not, it can be low cost to no cost," said Wood.

Immunization records should be dropped off to child's school before Aug. 18. They can also be dropped off at the Bakersfield City School District health office, 1530 East 19th St., 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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