Nurse practitioner Charla Knapp gives Claire Hendricks a meningitis vaccine at the Concordia Medical Center in Vidalia Tuesday morning.
Claire Hendricks smiles in relief after nurse practitioner Charla Knapp gave her a meningitis vaccine at the Concordia Medical Center in Vidalia Tuesday morning.

Immunizations are part of getting ready for school

Published 12:04am Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Claire Hendricks winced moments before receiving the last two vaccinations required for her to enter the sixth grade.

“I hate shots,” Hendricks said as she waited in a patient room at Concordia Medical Center. “Do I have to get them?”

In Louisiana and Mississippi, children must receive a number of immunizations before entering school or certain grades.

Louisiana law requires children age 4 or older who are entering kindergarten, pre-kindergarten or Head Start programs to have proof they have received the following vaccinations:

• A booster dose of Poliovirus vaccine (IPV)

• Two doses of Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR)

• Three doses of Hepatitis vaccine (HBV)

• Two doses of Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine (Var)

• A booster dose of Diphtheria Tetanus Acellular Pertussis vaccine (DtaP)

Children who are 11 or older and are entering the sixth grade must have proof they have previously received all the age-appropriate immunizations and must also receive the following vaccinations:

• Meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine

• Tetanus Diphtheria Acellular Pertussis vaccine (Tdap)

Charla Knapp, nurse practitioner at Concordia Medical Center, said the last few weeks have been hectic with so many parents bringing in their children to receive last-minute vaccinations.

“Around the middle of July is when everybody starts to get in a panic and starts bringing their children in,” Knapp said. “This is a very popular time for most pediatricians to be doing vaccinations, physicals and check-ups before school starts.”

Knapp said she prefers when parents don’t tell their child they’re visiting the doctor to get vaccinations.

“They build it in their head to be so much worse than it is, so it’s better if they just say, ‘We’re going to the doctor,’” Knapp said. “It’s very much a mental thing because once it’s done, they realize it was all nerves and that they’re fine.”

No matter how the parents get their children there, Knapp said the most important thing is realizing the role the vaccinations play in keeping all children healthy.

“The vaccines are extremely important not just to protect their child, but for the children around them as well,” Knapp said. “If your child doesn’t have the vaccines, there’s a greater risk of them spreading something to the children around them.

“People sometimes forget about these diseases because we don’t see a lot of them here often, but they are dangerous and they can kill children and adults.”

In Mississippi, children entering a school from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade for the first time are required to have had the following vaccinations:

• Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)

• Polio (IPV)

• Hepatitis B

• Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

• Chickenpox (Varicella)

Children entering the seventh grade must also receive a Tetanus Diphtheria Acellular Pertussis vaccine (Tdap).

While not required in Mississippi, vaccinations against hepatitis and meningococcal disease are encouraged for those students entering high school and college, according to the Mississippi Department of Health.