Don’t let too much of summer vacation slip away before planning to get ready for school again – including all childhood immunizations.
The best choice is to have children vaccinated by your family doctor. If that is not possible, you can visit the Tribal Health Department or county offices of the Florida Department of Health. DOH is offering free immunizations over the summer, including a big campaign at Lauderhill Mall in Broward County from Aug. 7-22.
Skipping the shots does matter. In South Florida and elsewhere in the U.S., a few unvaccinated children have come down with cases of diseases that previously were virtually eradicated, namely measles, chicken pox and whooping cough.
Florida law says children cannot start school unless they have received all vaccinations against nine contagious and potentially fatal childhood diseases. Back-to-school shots are especially important for children entering kindergarten and seventh grade, because different requirements begin at those grade levels. Don’t let a missing vaccination mess up the first day of school.
Vaccinations required for school include:
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough): 4-5 doses of DTaP for babies and pre-schoolers. 1 booster dose, TDaP, before seventh grade.
- Polio: 3-5 doses for babies and pre-schoolers.
- Measles, mumps, rubella (German measles): 2 doses of MMR for babies and pre-schoolers.
- Varicella (chickenpox): 2 doses for babies and pre-schoolers. 1 booster dose before seventh grade.
Hepatitis B: 3 doses for babies.
Parents are encouraged to consider additional vaccinations not required for school but recommended by federal health officials. These include vaccines against flu (yearly starting at six months old), rotavirus (3 doses for babies), Haemophilus influenzae B (3-4 doses for babies), pneumococcal disease (4 doses for babies), hepatitis A (2 doses for babies), human papilloma virus (2-3 doses starting at age 9) and meningococcal disease (2 doses starting at age 11).
Seminole tribal clinics give required back-to-school immunizations. Parents can make an appointment for their children and be ready for school in advance. For details, phone numbers and locations, visit semtribe.com/Services/Health.aspx.
Additionally, DOH gives free shots for back-to-school through the federal Vaccines for Children program:
- DOH-Broward – Free health shots at two health centers. Also available Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 7-23 at Lauderhill Mall, 1267 NW 40 Ave. Evening hours 4 to 7 p.m. are available on Aug. 10, 14 and 17. An immunization and family fun fair is set for Aug. 12 when free vaccines for HPV and meningitis will be available. 954-467-4705 or broward.floridahealth.gov.
- DOH-Hendry – Free shots available at health centers. 863-674-4041 or floridahealth.gov.
- DOH-Okeechobee – Free shots available at clinic. 863-462-5819 or okeechobee.floridahealth.gov.
- DOH-Collier – Free shots at health centers. 239-252-7300 or 8207 or collier.floridahealth.gov.
- DOH-Hillsborough – Free shots at certain locations. 813-307-8077 or hillsborough.floridahealth.gov.
- DOH-St. Lucie – Free shots available at health center. 772-462-3800 or stlucie.floridahealth.gov.