Employee & Community Health

Back-to-school? Add 'vaccines' to your to-do list

8/21/2017 by Dr. Robert Jacobson

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It's back-to-school for our children in the next month or so. There's a lot to do before that first day, everything from meet-the-teacher events and lunch plans to bus and carpool schedules to shopping for school supplies and clothing. And it's also a good time to double-check your children's current and upcoming needs for vaccines. 

Flu shots, but no nasal spray

All children will need influenza (flu) vaccines this year. Parents, too. No matter your child's age or health condition, health care experts recommend only the shot form of the flu vaccine. This is the second year in a row with experts saying "no" to the nasal spray form. 

When should kids get vaccinated? For our community, that's before December. Children younger than age 9, who are getting the flu vaccine for the first time in their lives, need two doses, one month apart. The first dose should be started early enough so they are getting the second dose by December 1. 

Schools in Olmsted County have announced sign-up for students to get their flu shots at school. This year, all schools, including the Rochester public high schools, are taking part in the program. Starting in mid-October, the rest of us can get our flu shots at a clinic. Employee and Community Health (ECH) will offer walk-in clinics and other options for getting your family vaccinated. 

Vaccines timed for well-child visits

When do your children have their next well-child visits? To make staying up-to-date with vaccines other than the flu easier, we time them with well-child visits. School children should be seen for well-child visits at ages 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17. Non-flu vaccines routinely are recommended at the 9- and 11-year-old well-child visits. 

Schedule a vaccine-only nurse visit

Your child doesn't need an appointment for an exam with their health care provider to get vaccines that are due. Your care team offers nurse visits just for vaccines. These are easy to schedule, and our nurses' schedules are more flexible, which allows you to make appointments at times convenient for you. 

Dr. Robert M. Jacobson is a primary care pediatrician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and is the medical director of the ECH and Southeast Minnesota Region Immunization Programs.