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Editorial: Check on vaccinations before school

As we gear up for school in another month, health officials say it’s a good time to check on vaccinations.

Back to school time is fast approaching and state health officials are reminding parents to make sure their children have the benefit of being fully vaccinated against an array of potentially serious childhood diseases.

New data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reaffirms that the vast majority of children in Minnesota enter kindergarten fully vaccinated. Some students are exempt from vaccines, though.

“It’s a small group compared to those who are vaccinated, but it still leaves the door open for a vaccine-preventable disease to sneak in and make a child very sick or worse,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at Minnesota Department of Health. “We’re always striving for 100 percent vaccination coverage.”

The importance of childhood vaccines can be highlighted with the resurgence of pertussis (whooping cough), according to the Minnesota Department of Health. High vaccination rates with DTaP, the pediatric vaccine that provides pertussis protection, plays an important role in keeping levels of pertussis down in a community. Even with this significant increase in pertussis disease, the high rates of vaccination in young children prevented spread to the younger age groups.

So, as you’re getting ready for school and having check-ups for your children, make sure you also check on their vaccinations. This could prevent diseases from spreading.

This is especially important for protecting those who can’t be vaccinated because of a medical condition or who don’t respond to immunization because of a weak immune system.