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The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is reminding parents that now is the time to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines before the start of school. Alabama state law requires children to be current on several vaccinations before enrolling them in child care centers and schools to protect the health of all students, and a Certificate of Immunization must be presented to the school before admission.

Childhood vaccines protect against polio, measles, whooping cough and chickenpox.

The ADPH recommends that children receive the COVID-19 vaccine, although it is not a requirement for school entry. The ADPH provides the COVID-19 vaccine at county health departments for children ages six months and older. The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone six months and older and boosters for everyone five years and older.

There have been numerous instances of documented and anecdotal side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC says that “the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh any potential risks.”

Dr. Stewart Tankersley with the Concerned Doctors of Alabama disagrees with the ADPH on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines and has told 1819 News that “I don’t recommend that anyone get the [COVID-19] vaccine.”

Tankersley shared a study that appears to indicate that a COVID-19 vaccine actually decreases a person’s immune system to deal with subsequent infection.

As for other vaccines, the ADPH said parents should vaccinate their children according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ immunization schedule, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough and as many as 20 deaths of babies each year in the United States. Most whooping cough deaths are among babies who are too young to be protected by their mother’s vaccination.

Children who are ages four to six years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: TDAP (tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis, also called whooping cough), chickenpox, MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and polio.

The TDAP or tetanus-diphtheria (TD) booster is required for children ages 11 to 12 years. It can be given at 13-18 years if not received at an earlier age. TDAP can be given regardless of the time since receiving a previous TD-containing vaccine. The TD booster is used in persons who should not get the pertussis vaccine.

The meningococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all preteens and teens at 11 to 12 years old, with a booster dose at 16 years old. Teens may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (two or three doses depending on the brand), preferably at 16 through 18 years old. Any older teen who has never been vaccinated should be vaccinated as soon as possible.

ADPH also recommends that everyone aged six months and older should be vaccinated every year with the influenza vaccine as soon as it becomes available in the community.

Check with your child’s health care provider or local health department to find out what specific vaccines they need this year. Parents can find out more about the immunizations children need here

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.

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