Ways to Get Free and Low Cost Back to School Vaccinations
Summer is coming to an end and most of you are prepping your kids for back to school. I can’t believe it’s already mid-August! Sure, there are lots of back to school sales, but don’t forget to make sure your kids’ immunizations are up to date. Keeping and maintaining their health is of utmost importance. So, when and what shots do your kids need? I’ll break it down for you. Kindergarten: Children starting kindergarten this fall should have the DTap/Tdap (diphtheria, tetatnus, pertussis), IPV (polio), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), varicella (chicken pox) and flu shot before the age of 6. It is recommended they get all these immunizations between the ages of 4-6. Also, the flu shot is recommended for everyone over 6 months every fall or winter. I would say the flu shot is up to you. I’ve never had the flu shot and know some others in the same boat and we’ve never gotten the flu.
After all these shots that your poor child has to endure, he or she is good till age 11.
Sixth Grade: Middle schoolers need another round of Dtap/Tdap and girls should get the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination as well. Boys may get it too, but it is highly recommended for girls since HPV causes cervical cancer, genital warts and other types of cancer. HPV can also cause genital warts and anal cancer in males, so it’s probably best to give them to your son.
High School: Adolescents aged 16-18 years of age should get the Dtap vaccine only if they didn’t get the last round in middle school. It is recommended they get the MVC4 (Meningococcal conjugate) vaccine at this time. Meningococcal is a serious disease that is spread through saliva when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Contraction of the bacteria can infect the blood, spinal cord and brain which could be fatal.
You’re probably wondering how much all these vaccines are going to set you back. If you have health insurance, talk to your doctor about it. Usually vaccines are partly or fully covered by your insurance. If not, there are a some free or low cost programs available.
Vaccines for Children: The VFC program offers free vaccines to children through VFC-enrolled doctors. Children on Medicaid, uninsured, American Indian or Alaska Natives or under-insured are usually qualified for this program. To find out if you qualify, contact them on their website.
Clinics: Some county clinics offer free or low cost vaccines to children as well. LA County has such a program and there are clinics in several cities in the Los Angeles area. Check with your local public health department for more information.
Drugstores: CVS and Walgreens have been known to offer free flu shots at certain times of the year. I was just in a Walgreens recently and saw a sign offering low cost vaccines. Some CVS locations even have a Minute Clinic where they will administer shots and physicals for you without an appointment. To get more information, call or visit your local drugstore and see what they are offering. Most of time, all you have to do is ask.
In order to get your child immunized and ready for school, you could spend around $1,200 by the time they start kindergarten. What are some ways you save on vaccines? Are you up to date on all the required immunizations for children?