By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 2, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 2, 2012) -- Having a child get a vaccination is never the highlight of a parent's day, but the nurses at Lyster Army Health Clinic feel it's vital that children are properly immunized for school registration as well as health.
Parents must provide proof of immunization for children to attend school or day care each year, according to Carolyn Peterson, a licensed practical nurse and allergy immunology technician at Lyster. A "blue card" is the documented paperwork that parents need filled out for children to be allowed in school.
To get into school, "4 year olds need a DTaP(diphtheria, tetanus, acellular), Pertussis, Polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella ) and a Varicella shot. And if they are in DOD schools, they also need two Hepatitis A vaccines. After these shots, 4 year olds tend to have a little bit of a fever. It is normal because they are live virus, it's just what parents should expect," she said.
"Eleven and 12 year olds going into sixth grade in a DOD school need a Tetanus, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular) and Meningitis. Public schools only need the Tdap," she said.
She added that children can get the needed vaccines up to the day before school starts in order to begin school on time, but Peterson recommends going as soon as you are able.
August is the peak season. "So come early," she said. "The best time is first thing in the morning, from 7:30-9 a.m. The rush is usually around lunch time."
The clinic is open 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7:30-11:30 a.m. every third Wednesday of the month.
Peterson is familiar with the rush of patients that come to Lyster for shots at the end of each summer and advises not to wait until the last minute, because Families might find themselves waiting a while.
"We are a walk-in clinic, so we see everyone and there are no appointments for school year vaccinations," she said.
Adults shouldn't forget that their immunization health is just as important as children's, said Peterson.
"Foreign countries that Soldiers are exposed to have a lot of diseases that aren't as prevalent here, and Soldiers need to be up to date on all vaccines, according to the Center of Disease Control, depending on which country they are going to or coming from," she said.
"Though Soldiers are usually punctual, we find that some think they don't need to come in," said Jeanie Eddy, an immunization nurse at Lyster.
"People on base travel more than most civilians. They pick up a lot more germs overseas like Pertussis, which adults are carriers for," she added.
Eddy stated that concerns over side effects of vaccinations or over vaccination may prevent some parents from vaccinating their children.
"The stigma of autism, developmental issues and supposed mercury in the vaccines frightens some parents enough to not want their child vaccinated-- a lot of times its from what parents hear and read, and it's really scary to them. They decide to delay appointments or avoid them altogether, which is scary in itself because a lot of diseases that are supposedly eradicated are so because we vaccinate for them. They are not gone. If we do not vaccinate, they are going to come back. The outbreak of measles and whooping cough are proof of that," she said.
"There is no scientific evidence that links vaccines to autism," she added.
For more information on immunizations, or the safety of vaccines, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/.