State agencies remind families to seek immunizations for children in preparation for the new school year

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The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are reminding parents and guardians to check their children’s vaccination records to make sure they meet immunization requirements prior to the first day of school.

 
The federally funded Vaccines for Children program provides vaccines at no cost to children in low-income households. Families can call (312) 746-6050 in Chicago or (217) 785-1455 in all other parts of Illinois to learn about free vaccines.
 
“Immunizations are central to keeping students healthy and ready to learn,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Keeping children’s vaccinations up to date according to the recommended schedule is one of the most important things parents and guardians can do to protect the health of the youngest and oldest among us. Whether for a baby starting at a new child care facility, a toddler heading to preschool, or a student going back to elementary, middle or high school, I encourage parents and guardians to check their children’s vaccination records and, if necessary, schedule a visit with a physician or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a potential last-minute rush.”
 
Immunizations have eradicated several serious diseases, such as smallpox, polio, and diphtheria in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instances of other serious diseases, such as measles and rubella, have dropped by more than 99 percent since the pre-vaccination era. Keeping students’ vaccinations up to date is especially important, as diseases can spread quickly among groups of unvaccinated children.
 
“Child care facilities, preschool programs, and schools are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “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 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.”
 

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