As students prepare to head back to school in August, parents and caregivers seeking immunizations for children are advised to make those appointments immediately with their healthcare provider.

Published Jul 17th, 2019

By Casandra Andrews
candrews@health.southalabama.edu


As students prepare to head back to school in August, parents and caregivers seeking immunizations for children are advised to make those appointments immediately with their healthcare provider.

“We see a huge demand at this time each year,” said Dr. Curtis Turner, professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a pediatrician with USA Health in Mobile. “My advice is make your appointments now as part of planning for your child’s upcoming school year.”

By law, most children attending public and private schools, Alabama day cares and Head Start programs, must have an immunization certificate -- also known as a blue card -- showing that vaccines are up-to-date.

According to Turner, in Alabama, vaccines are required to prevent measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and polio. “It’s recommended that girls and boys age 11 and older also be vaccinated against HPV, the human papilloma virus,” said Turner.

This year, the vaccination rate for Mobile County was 91.92 percent, state health department records show. Mobile County has the largest public school system in Alabama with more than 59,000 students enrolled in pre-K through grade 12.

“The vaccines we use are an important part of preventing mortality and morbidity,” Turner said. “Vaccines are critical to maintaining health and well-being. They prevent diseases that cause real harm.”

Students who are not changing schools should already have a blue card on file at that school. Those certificates expire when children reach ages 4 and 11, according to the state’s immunization schedule.

Incoming 10th-graders -- typically 16 year olds -- must have received at least one varicella immunization. New blue cards are issued when appropriate immunizations are completed.

Vaccines are available during scheduled well-child visits at USA Health Pediatrics and USA Health Family Medicine at the USA Health Strada Patient Care Center in midtown Mobile. Appointments may be made by calling Pediatrics at (251) 410-5437 or Family Medicine at (251) 434-3475.

Turner recommends that everyone takes time now to make sure blue cards are up-to-date to avoid delays in student enrollment.

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