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As any parent knows, choosing which vaccines to give your child can depend on the immunizations required in your state, their age and personal feelings about vaccine safety. We’ve broken down some of the facts and where you can find the best resources available about your child’s immunization schedule.

Vaccine Rates in America

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the majority of parents in the US are still choosing to immunize their children against specific diseases, but uptake can vary depending on the condition they’re receiving a vaccine for. There are 16 diseases in the U.S. which could be potentially harmful (or even deadly) if not immunized against, but only some of these are mandatory depending on the state you live in.

Childhood Vaccines: Why Immunize?

In most states, children must receive certain immunizations before they attend school, unless exempt for medical or religious reasons. Parents may hear a lot of misinformation about vaccines which cause them concern about immunizing their child. Ensure your own opinions are based on scientific facts, official recommendations and educate yourself on whether prevention is better than cure. The diseases that vaccines can prevent shouldn’t be taken lightly. For children born from 1994 to 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that vaccinations will prevent 381 million illnesses and 855,000 deaths.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to understand more about how vaccines work, their risks, effects, and safety information before choosing whether to immunize or not. There are plenty of CDC resources available to you including how to make the right decision about vaccines. You must feel comfortable when making each decision.

  • Get informed by learning about the benefits vs. the risks of each vaccine. You can read these online, but your Doctor must also be able to provide information sheets or booklets on each immunization for your child.
  • Educate yourself about each disease being immunized against.
  • Write down questions you have for your child’s healthcare provider and remember that you can request to see information about the drug company who manufacture the vaccine.
  • Understand state law for immunizations in your area and exemptions available.
  • Familiarize yourself with appropriate vaccine schedules and make sure you take along your child’s vaccine record to any appointments.
  • In the event of any side effects or adverse reaction to the vaccine, you MUST report this to your Doctor.

North Carolina Childhood Immunizations

Each state has their own vaccination guidelines when it comes to childhood immunizations, and the National Vaccine Information Center has provided resources to view these.The North Carolina Immunization Branch has clear guidelines for residents on which vaccines for children are both required and recommended.

Childhood vaccines are required in North Carolina against the following diseases:

  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hib Disease
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal Disease
  • Polio
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

The other 4 vaccines recommended by the CDC are for the prevention of Hepatitis A, Flu (Influenza), Rotavirus, and HPV (Human Papillomavirus). It’s a parent’s choice as to whether they would like to immunize their child against these.

When your child needs each immunization depends on their age, and the CDC has published a recommended immunization schedule for children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years. In North Carolina, your child’s vaccination record will be required for school enrollment, and they will be unable to attend unless all the appropriate immunizations for their age have been met. Their vaccine records will be checked at early child care entry, kindergarten, 7th Grade and before college & university entry. The CDC recommends a catch up schedule for those between 4 months and 18 years old who have fallen behind on immunizations by more than one month.

EXEMPTIONS in North Carolina law:

  • Medical exemptions – These can only be requested by a physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina on the grounds that the vaccine may be detrimental to the person’s health (based on certain contraindications).
  • Religious exemptions – Parents may submit a statement of bona fide religious beliefs which oppose their religious objection to the immunization. These should be submitted in place of an immunization record.
  • Personal exemptions – No personal belief (other than objections based on religious grounds) can be used as an exemption.

Making informed decisions about immunizations for your child is one which requires research from yourselves as parents. Make sure you use the resources available to you to make the best decision about your child’s health.

For more advice about your prescriptions and health care needs, contact us or pop in and see us at Walker’s Drug Store. We’re happy to help.