Vaccination time again

HANCOCK – With school starting Tuesday, most parents have had their children immunized, but there may be some who haven’t done it yet, and Barb Auten wants those parents to know there’s still time to get it done.

Auten, director of public health and education at the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department in the Hancock office, said there are six vaccines required for school-aged children.

“(Children are) supposed to have their required immunizations before they start in the classroom (in public and non-public schools),” she said.

However, if parents have started a course of immunizations that haven’t finished yet, school officials may let their children into school while the process is continuing.

Auten said some parents may not have gotten the required vaccines because they think they can’t afford them, but there is a procedure using the federally funded Vaccines for Children program, which will allow parents to get the required vaccines, either at their private doctor or the health department. Although the vaccines are free, there is an administrative fee required.

Although most parents locally are diligent about getting their children immunized, Auten said it isn’t 100 percent.

“It could be better,” she said.

The required vaccinations are: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; meningococcl; and varicella (chicken pox). Parents should check with their private doctor or the health department for dose schedules.

It’s possible to have more than one vaccine given to a child during a single visit, Auten said. The flu vaccine can also be given with the other vaccines.

“There’s no reason they can’t be given multiple vaccines at the same time,” she said.

Auten said there are waivers from the state for parents who have philosophical differences with the idea of immunizations, or if getting immunizations would cause a medical problem for their child.

For parents without a private doctor, Auten said parents can call the health department at 482-7382 to set an appointment to have their children vaccinated.