Tennessee... More Vaccines Forced on Children

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:29pm.

Tennessee children should be ready to bare their arms and thighs for a bevy of needle sticks — like it or not —before they can go to school next year.

That's because the state passed new rules that require school-age children to get vaccinated against chicken pox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, whooping cough and pneumococcal disease — on top of the vaccines they already get.

By the seventh grade, a child will have had 27 doses of immunizations to protect against diseases, many now eradicated. Some parents wonder if children are being over-vaccinated.

But state health officials said after 10 years without an update to the vaccine mandate, Tennessee needed to get in line with federal immunization guidelines.

"These are all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and have been for years," said Dr. Kelly Moore, medical director for the state immunization program. "We're just taking the last step to make them required so no child falls through the cracks."

The CDC also recommends six other doses of vaccines — HPV for girls, annual flu shots and rotavirus — not required in Tennessee.

Pre-schoolers and kindergartners will need four additional vaccines — hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Seventh-graders need a tetanus booster and verification of immunity against chicken pox.

Many pediatricians follow the CDC recommendations, and more than 90 percent of Tennessee children get vaccinated against hepatitis B and pneumococcal, which can lead to meningitis or pneumonia.

Hepatitis B is thought of as an adult disease, often contracted through sex or intravenous drug use, but children can be infected.

"You can get it from contact with infected blood," Moore said. "Most children who get it are very young and will have it for life because it sets in and stays. Adults can get over it."

Hepatitis A is more easily contracted through food or water.

With whooping cough, the state has seen about a 300 percent increase in cases in middle-schoolers. An antibiotic can get rid of the bacteria, but the cough lasts for months.

Some parents are wary...

Tennesseans do a good job of getting children immunized. The state ranks fourth in the nation. About 98 percent of children get shots as required, and about 1 percent have a religious or health exemption.

But one in four parents believe a link exists between autism and vaccines, though no connection has been proved. Many of the wary parents still get their children vaccinated, according to a recent study by the University of Michigan.

"Vaccines have been proven safe across the country," said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University. "There are no dangers associated with these requirements."

Jamie Butera said her son might not have gotten meningitis in kindergarten if he had had the vaccine.

"My son might not have ended up in the hospital," said Butera, who was told by doctors her son wouldn't survive. He is now 11.

She said vaccines have virtually eliminated once-deadly diseases such as polio and measles, and few people give them much thought.

"The vaccines should be mandatory because you never know what your child can come into contact with," Butera said.

Kara Carden believes society's constant on-the-go pressure forces parents to get vaccines they are not sure about.

"Are we saying just because a vaccine can be developed it will be?'' said Carden, who has a 6-year-old and a 1-year-old.

"I wish in this discussion about vaccinations there was a mention of other ways to support prevention (against diseases) in the community. There are other ways."

Parents will have to prove their children got the required vaccines or file for religious or health exemptions.

The state is printing updated vaccine forms, which will be available April 1 and must be turned in to school districts.  Students won't be thrown out when school opens in August; there will be a grace period to get vaccinated.

Health officials want the word out now to avoid a before-school crush at health clinics and doctor's offices.

"We don't want people to wait until the week before, or the first week of school, to get vaccinated," said Brian Todd, spokesman for the Metro health department. "A lot of people don't think in March, 'We need to go get vaccinated,' but we want people to get a jump on it."

Vaccines will be available at health department clinics. Nashville's health department also will have a fast-track clinic over the summer.

Christina E. Sanchez - March 22, 2010 - source NoOneHasToDieTomorrow

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 7:29pm.