B2S Health: immunizations, boosters and physicals - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

B2S Health: immunizations, boosters and physicals

Students across Southwest Louisiana are getting in the back-to-school groove and that means a greater chance of catching a virus in close classroom quarters.  Find out what is on the required list of immunizations and which students should have physicals.

S.J. Welsh Middle School 6th grader Constance Fontenot is not overly thrilled about heading back to school this week - but even lower on her list are the immunizations she must have first.  "I do not like them," she said, "but I know we need them for health issues and so we don't catch anything."

Constance is up to date on childhood immunizations - a cluster of shots from infancy to grade school that Dr. Alan LeBato with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital's LSU Family Medicine Center says is a must with certain bacterial diseases on the rise.  "We saw an upsurge in the amount of pertussis or whooping cough cases that have occurred in this country and that's a very deadly disease, especially to the young children."

While a small amount of children and teens that undergo immunization and booster shots experience some side effects, Dr. LeBato says the benefits far outweigh the risks.  "The most important ones are measles, mumps and rubella, the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and an influenza vaccination is recommended every year," he said.

The MMR booster that Constance is getting at age 11 will protect her for life and the tetanus booster is good for another 10 years.  "That immunity response gets lower and lower and you need the booster just to kind of wake up your immune system," said Dr. LeBato.

Finally, Constance is getting a mandatory physical for 6th through 12th grade athletes - checking her heart, lungs and body to ensure she is ready for softball.  "I need to keep in shape and be healthy so nothing else can hurt and I can enjoy the sports I love," she said.

The diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis booster is required for college students, as well as a meningitis vaccination.

Click here for a list of required immunizations and boosters for Louisiana students.

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