Don’t let disease spread at your child’s school

Health & Fitness

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This story is brought to you by Grand Peaks Medical and Dental, a multi-specialty, nonprofit, Community Health Center in St. Anthony and Rexburg.

The old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may or may not be true, but there is one proven way to keep from getting sick – and it’s easier then you think.

With the school year rapidly approaching, and the germ sharing that goes with being in close contact with lots of people, Idaho law requires anyone attending licensed schools or daycares to be up to date on all state required vaccinations.

Renee Tucker, a registered nurse with Grand Peaks Medical in Rexburg, said vaccines are killed or weakened diseases that when administered help stimulate the production of antibodies to protect against one or more diseases without actually inducing the disease.

Essentially, vaccines train your body to fight a specific disease, so if you come in contact with it, you don’t come down with it.

In the U.S., we rarely hear about diseases like measles or polio, but outbreaks do still occur, even here.

This child has a deformity of her right lower leg due to polio. | Courtesy CDC

Although the nationwide average for vaccination rates is 98 percent, it fluctuates from state to state, which can cause problems if the rates drop too low.

Because not everyone can receive vaccines, and a small percentage of people will not produce an immunological response after receiving the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control encourage everyone who can to be vaccinated.

With enough people vaccinated, it makes it much harder for the disease to spread, “herd immunity,” or protection because most people are immune.

In Idaho, vaccination rates in the 2015-2016 school year were at 94 percent with the remainder of people having medical, religious or personal exemptions granted from receiving vaccines.

Should an outbreak occur, Idaho’s immunization rates are low enough that herd immunity cannot be counted on to protect those most at risk for these diseases.

And out of the 6 percent of exempt people, medical exemptions make up only .3 percent of the population.

Religious reasons for exemptions came in at about .6 percent, but the bulk of exemptions are granted for philosophical reasons.

The Food and Drug Administration and CDC have repeatedly stated the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and constantly monitor vaccines for possible reactions or adverse effects. Still, Idaho has stayed around 6% for immunization exemptions from year to year.

Because of this, if you choose not to immunize, and an outbreak occurs, those with exemptions must receive vaccinations or be excluded from school and childcare, according to Idaho law.

So unfortunately, apples can only do so much.

While preparing your children for school, don’t forget to check if they are up to date on all required immunizations — it will keep both them and their peers safe.

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