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It’s Never Too Late to Get on Track With School Vaccinations

Learn more about the importance of vaccinations for children before they head back to school.

I have a vivid memory of my whole family heading to the public elementary school in Sacramento to receive the polio vaccine. By then, the vaccine was available in oral form, and I proudly accepted the sugar cube that would eventually eradicate the disease in the United States. Families were crying with relief that their children would not become crippled or worse yet, even die.

Dr F childhood pic

There are a few reasons why this memory has stuck with me.

  • As a disease that primarily affects children, polio was scary for my parents and my friends’ parents. Epidemics popped up in the country regularly. And each year, thousands of children were placed in iron lungs, paralyzed, or died.
  • There was a sense of collective pride amongst the group waiting to receive their vaccines. We were taking part in a historical moment led by our own medical hero, Dr. Jonas Salk.
  • What child isn’t excited about the prospect of eating pure sugar?

My parents were elated that my sister and I would be protected from the devastating effects of polio. They understood that there was a small risk associated with getting the vaccine, but that the odds of suffering horribly if we got polio were much higher. A weight would be lifted from them as well as us.

Polio was eradicated in the United States in 1979. Occasionally, unvaccinated individuals will experience an infection, but those images of iron lungs now seem like a science fiction story, though they were very, very real.

So, when people ask me about their children’s required vaccines for school, I say with no hesitation that they can save a child’s life. I recommend that parents share why we need vaccinations with their children, so that they can feel like the little super heroes they are heading into school with a fresh backpack and a few fresh band aids. That is certainly how I felt.

I frequently hear that so many children are immunized “so I don’t need to have my child immunized.”  Or “it’s not a serious illness, it’s ok if my child gets the infection.” 

That ignores that fact that there are children in our communities who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Those vulnerable children need every other child to be vaccinated. We are all in this together.

What vaccines does my child need?

The California Department of Public Health has information on what vaccinations children need to attend school here.

It’s never too late to get started

You’ll see that the vaccine requirements include several doses given over time. It’s never too late to begin vaccinations for your child. Your child can still be admitted to school if you’re working on getting up to date as long as they aren’t currently due for a dose.

Reach out to your child’s pediatrician to discuss the recommended vaccine schedule and ask any questions you may have. Yearly well-child visits are a great time to receive vaccinations, or you can ask your pediatrician’s office about vaccination clinics.

Preventive care vaccines are 100% covered through your Blue Shield of California when care is provided through network providers. You can learn more here.