Back to School Boosters; required and recommended vaccines

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- With a new school year comes new things to check off the list, and depending on what grade(s) your kid(s) are entering, part of that check list may include booster shots, vaccines, and routine physicals.

"Right now there are just a few vaccines that are quote-on-quote "recommended" out there. Most everything is getting required. For example, for the last few years hepatitis A has been recommended but now it's moved into the required status through sometime during this next school year. The legislature just passed that," says Dr. Debra Sowell, a pediatrician at Graves Glibert Clinic in Bowling Green.

Required -- but not without testing.

"I think that's what we try to do, is give the information for the vaccines. This isn't 'Dr. Sowell's office says you need to get this, this, and this.' These are what the Center for Disease Control says, this is what the American Academy of Pediatrics says, this is what the American Academy of Family Practitioners says," she adds.

Easing the fear of weary parents, Dr. Sowell says, "We just always say that to us, the vaccines are critically important."

She goes on to say, "We also have some parents who believe they'll get by on what's called 'herd immunity' -- in other words, if everybody else's kids are vaccinated then they'll just kind of not have that chance of getting chicken pox because quote-on-quote "everybody else has already had the vaccine" so hopefully they won't get exposed. I think that can be some risky business."

As far as what vaccines are required for school:

"There are boosters that are required-- measles, mumps, German measles, chickenpox, and DPT and polio-- sometime between four and six [years old]."

For those older kids getting close to middle school age, "Then of course with our 6th graders, we're dealing primarily with getting their first meningococcal vaccine, they also get a tetanus booster which has proteus added to it, and then also the introduction of the HPV vaccine. The Human Papilloma Vaccine which is recommended for boys and girls to start at that 6th grade physical," adds Dr. Sowell.

That HPV vaccine is still only recommended in Kentucky.

"Highly recommended," says Dr. Sowell, "But it's not required for schools. There are eight states in the United States that do require the HPV, but we're not one of them right now."

Graves Gilbert Clinic says back to school physicals began in March, but the office has still been seeing several families throughout the summer.

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