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Tiger Talk: The importance of immunizations

Immunizations are a fact of life for most children in our country. They have kept some very serious diseases, and their complications, away from the children and adults in our communities.

Cases reported in 1950 from the Centers for Disease Control shows that polio affected 33,300 people and caused 1,904 deaths. In 2011, that number was zero. Measles affected 319,124 people and caused 468 deaths in 1950; and in 2011, it affected 212 people but there were no deaths.

These diseases are becoming rare because we are vaccinating against them. Some of these diseases are making a recurrence in our country because not everyone is getting vaccinated. Pertussis continues to make people very ill and can cause death to infants and the elderly. Chicken pox can cause serious complications that many people don’t know about, including pneumonia, encephalitis, toxic shock, joint or bone infections, even death.

For more information about vaccines for you or your children, talk with your doctor.

The Minnesota Department of Health has changed immunization requirements starting in the fall of 2014. Children birth through age 4 years will now be required to have hepatitis A, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and pneumococcal vaccines in addition to previously required vaccines to start early childhood programs.

Children starting in seventh grade will be required to have the meningococcal and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap) vaccines as well as the previously required vaccines.

For a complete list of required vaccines, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website. Parents must show documentation that these vaccines were given when the school requests it.

Cass County Public Health will be holding a free mass vaccination clinic at two sites for all Cass County students in sixth through 12th grades. They will be offering the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School will be holding this clinic Monday, March 24, from 3-7:30 p.m. in their commons area.

Pine River-Backus School will be providing these vaccines on Thursday, April 10, from 3-7:30 p.m. in the commons area. Parents or guardians MUST be present to consent for the vaccines. If you have any questions, please contact Jeri Seegmiller, Cass County Public Health prevention services, at 218-547-1340, ext. 223.