LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Vaccinations are some of the most important tools in preventing disease and if you are the parent of a school-aged child, this Healthcast is for you. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has made changes to immunization requirements for the upcoming school year.
While students are only a couple of weeks into their summer vacations, it's time for parents to do their homework on immunization requirements for the next school year. Dr. Bruce Thompson with the Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana says the new requirements start with kids as young as four. "This year, a new requirement is that they get a second chicken pox booster," says Dr. Thompson.
An extra chicken pox vaccine is the first change for students in the Fall of 2009, but there's also a new requirement for middle school children. "They need a meningitis shot for what we call meningococcus," says Dr. Thompson, "we used to give it to those entering college, but it's been moved up to those after their 11th birthday."
DHH officials urge parents to take swift action this summer. "When you're in a group of people," says Dr. Thompson, "you have an increased risk of being exposed to that type of bacteria, so it's more precautionary."
For 7-year-old Jacob Stout, he's all caught up on his booster shots and says it wasn't so bad. "Well, they lifted up my sleeve and they put some alcohol on my arm and then they gave me a shot," says Jacob.
On top of making sure your child's shots are up to date, Dr. Thompson says parents need to make sure that yearly physicals are a priority. "Certainly, one is their growth," says Dr. Thompson, "make sure they're growing appropriately, and depending on their age, there are certain parameters as far as their height and their weight."
For Jacob's mom, Angela, she says these check-ups give her peace of mind. "To make sure they are where they should be for their health and if something were to be found," says Angela, "the sooner it's caught and the sooner it's treated, the better the outcome."
For a complete list of the required immunizations for the upcoming school year, click here.