By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)- – August is the month many Inland Empire children head back to school. Many of them, especially in grades 7-12, need to make sure they have all the necessary back-to-school immunizations.
New this year is a state of California requirement all children in grades 7-12 be immunized against whooping cough, also known as pertussis. Before starting classes, children in these grades must show proof of having been immunized after their 10th birthday.
“Most children were immunized against pertussis before they started kindergarten,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga, president of LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc. “But the immunization weakens over time, so the new law makes sure adolescents are still adequately protected against this disease.”
This state law came after an epidemic of pertussis cases in 2010, affecting more than 9,000 people and causing 10 deaths, including two infants in San Bernardino County. Vaccinating older children not only keeps them healthy, but also prevents the disease from spreading from adolescents to infants and preschoolers, who are at greater risk of serious complications.
Dr. Arteaga urges parents to schedule appointments for their child’s back-to-school examinations as soon as possible. With most Inland Empire children starting school in only a few weeks, a delay could result in children missing school.
Finances need not be a concern.
“Children in families who receive either Medi-Cal or Healthy Families will not be charged for these vaccines,” Dr. Arteaga said. “And for families with no insurance, we can offer this immunization for free through the California Vaccines for Children program.”
The California Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program. Children who have insurance, but whose insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the vaccine, may also be eligible.
Children starting kindergarten also need immunizations, including a pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria vaccine designed for young children called DTaP. They also need proof of immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis and Varicella (chicken pox.)
“If parents have kept up with their child’s immunizations from birth, only booster immunizations are needed for kindergarteners,” Dr. Arteaga said. “However, if the child is behind on their other required immunizations, they may need several doses of immunizations to get caught up.”
The LaSalle Medical Associates clinics are at 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, 1505 West 17th St. and 565 N. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino, and 16455 Main St. in Hesperia.
For additional information about LaSalle Medical Associates, call (909) 890-0407.