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August Is National Immunization Awareness Month: Help your kids start the school year off right
Story Number is : 081317104
Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital

Just in time for Back to School, National Immunization Awareness Month is observed each year in August and reminds us of the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Dr. Neha Limaye from Brigham and Women’s Family Care Associates at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital says vaccinations are particularly important for kids, especially at this time of year.

“From the time they are born to when they finish high school, your children need to be protected from 16 vaccine-preventable diseases,” says Dr. Limaye. “It sounds like a lot vaccines, but if you break it down by age, you can ensure your child is protected. Plus, the benefits have been proven by years of research. Many of these diseases are now quite rare due to nearly universal vaccine use and the vaccines themselves have been proven safe.”

Newborn to 6 Years Old
Younger children need vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be very serious and sometimes deadly. Young babies do not have a fully developed immune defense system so they are particularly at risk for getting serious complications from some of these illnesses. Getting your child vaccinated not only protects your own child but also protects other children and adults in your community from getting sick from these diseases. Luckily, your child does not need 14 shots. Many of the vaccines that pediatricians give are combination vaccines that protect against several of these illnesses. You can find out exactly which vaccines your child needs through the CDC. And remember, if your child is 6 months or older, you should also make sure they get the flu vaccine every year.

7 to 18 Years Old
Older kids are also at risk for certain diseases. There are three vaccines that are recommended for 11- to 12-year-olds before heading back to school: HPV, meningococcal and Tdap vaccines. The HPV vaccine is incredibly important because it protects against HPV infections that can later cause cancer. All kids this age should get two doses of this vaccine?it truly prevents cancer! The meningococcal vaccine protects children from two out of three of the most common causes of meningococcal disease, which can be extremely serious and sometimes cause deaths on college campuses. Finally, the effect of some vaccines fade as you age, which is why children at this age need a booster dose of Tdap to maintain protection against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. You can find out exactly which vaccines your child needs through the CDC. And don’t forget, kids at this age also need a flu shot every year!

“Although many diseases are now very rare thanks to these vaccines, there are still cases and sometimes even outbreaks,” cautions Dr. Limaye. “In the past few years, we have seen higher numbers of measles and whooping cough cases, and, earlier this summer, Boston had an outbreak of mumps in adults aged 20 to 41. All of these diseases are vaccine-preventable, so the absolute best way to keep your children and your community healthy is to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccinations.”

Dr. Limaye also reminds parents that Massachusetts requires all students to be vaccinated against certain diseases. “The summer is a great time to check with your pediatrician or school to make sure your children are covered,” she says. “If for some reason your child has missed some of these vaccines, or is behind schedule, don’t worry! Just contact your pediatrician and follow the CDC’s catch-up immunization schedule.”

If your child hasn’t had their required vaccinations yet or they need a physical before going back to school this year, make an appointment with Dr. Limaye or another of the pediatricians at Brigham and Women’s Family Care Associates at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital by calling 617-983-7025.

About Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital
Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital is a 162 bed non-profit, community teaching hospital located in southwest Boston. Founded in 1900, they offer comprehensive medical, surgical and psychiatric care as well as complete emergency, ambulatory and diagnostic services. For more information, visit

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