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twitter_back-to-schoolIt’s Back To School season so make sure your child is up to date on all recommended vaccines. Getting vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health. Diseases can quickly spread among groups of children who aren’t vaccinated. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new child care facility, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccination records.

Child care facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs, and other factors such as interacting in crowded environments.

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, child care centers, classrooms and communities – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions. This year’s measles outbreak in Minnesota illustrates that communities are vulnerable when vaccination rates drop.

You can keep track of your child’s vaccines by following a recommended immunization schedule, which your healthcare provider can discuss with you. As your child progresses through school, make sure to keep up with the

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Immunization Program now makes vaccine data available online so you can see local vaccine coverage and exemption rates in your community.  MDPH posts immunization rates for grade 7, kindergarten, childcare, and college by school/center and by county.

While immunization rates in Massachusetts are generally high, there are parts of the state with exemptions rates substantially higher than the state average. The map below shows the rates of students with an exemption to one or more vaccines. Exemptions presented here are medical and religious exemptions combined, however most exemptions claimed in Massachusetts are religious exemptions. Areas with high exemption rates may be more susceptible to vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks. You can find more information on maps like this on our School Immunizations page.

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School immunization requirements exist to protect students and members of their community from serious vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring high vaccination rates. Many vaccine-preventable diseases can easily spread in child care and school settings. Protecting your children from preventable diseases by following the recommended immunization schedule will help keep them healthy and in school. Talk to your child’s doctor to make sure your children get the vaccinations they need when they need them.

Written By:


Immunization Outreach Coordinator in the Bureau of Infectious Disease

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