Send your kids back to school with immunizations up to date


By Flannery O’Neil

Special to The SUN

To celebrate the importance of immunizations throughout life — and make sure children are protected — San Juan Basin Health recognizes August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

Childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk of contracting and spreading diseases to others, including babies not yet fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions.

Children need certain vaccines to attend school. For example, children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio. Older children, like preteens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) to attend school and other vaccines are recommended, such as MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines when they are 11 to 12. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for all children 6 months and older.

Parents can find out more about the required school immunizations and recommended schedule at

We encourage residents to receive their immunizations in their medical home, with their primary care provider, to ensure that their care is well coordinated and is a partnership between them and their healthcare provider. Call your provider to discuss your immunization needs.

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides immunizations to children regardless of ability to pay. Children ages 0 through 18 years may qualify based on these criteria: 1) Medicaid/eligible; 2) Native American/Native Alaskan; 3) No health insurance coverage; 4) Underinsured (health insurance does not cover vaccine services or there is vaccine cap).