The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment reminds parents and guardians that it is time to update their children’s immunizations. For parents of children entering school, it is an especially good time to review which vaccinations are required before the 2009-10 school year begins.
The health department’s three immunization clinics are ready for the yearly back-to-school ritual. This year, the Loveland clinic offers extended hours on the second Wednesday of each month and will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. to better accommodate parent schedules.
Larimer County Health Department’s immunization clinics offer low-cost immunizations under the Federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. Through the program, families without health insurance, who are low-income or otherwise can’t afford full-priced immunizations, can have their children less than 19 years old vaccinated for $14.50 per shot. However, no one will be turned away for inability to pay.
Under Colorado statute, if a school determines that a child’s immunizations are incomplete, parents have 14 days after receiving notification from the school for their child to receive the recommended immunizations. Parents must present to the school a written plan for completion of the remaining immunizations. Also, by law, a child cannot be admitted to school without providing an immunization record or an exemption. Immunizations are also required for enrollment at a child-care center, beginning at two months of age.
Immunizations are one of the best ways for parents to protect their children from many serious diseases, and to protect the community as well. Because immunizations have helped reduce and, in some cases, eliminate some serious childhood illnesses, there is a mistaken belief that infection from with those diseases no longer occurs. However, without immunizations, a child, family or community can indeed still contract some of the illnesses may seem to be diseases of the past. Whooping cough is just one of those illnesses.
“Pertussis [whooping cough] continues to occur in the community,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. “Infected children, adolescents, and adults can then spread pertussis to infants, who can have severe, even life-threatening, illness.”
The Tdap vaccine provides protection against pertussis, as well as against tetanus and diphtheria. According to Chandra Klein, supervisor of Larimer County’s immunization program, adolescents and teens need a booster dose of the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) to provide ongoing protection against whooping cough. Though infants and young children receive the pertussis vaccine, the protection begins to wane over time. By age 11 or 12, youth become more vulnerable to the illness. The additional vaccine boosts their antibodies, providing stronger protection for the teen years.
Under Colorado law, parents may choose to have their children exempted from immunization requirements for medical, religious or personal reasons. Exemption forms, which can be submitted in lieu of the certificate of immunization, are on the reverse side of the state’s Certificate of Immunization and can be obtained from doctors’ offices and at schools.
For more information on childhood immunizations, adult immunizations, travel immunizations or Larimer County Health Department clinic hours, call (970) 498-6700.