It's almost time for students to get back in the classroom, but before they do, doctors want to remind parents to make sure their child's vaccinations are up-to-date.
Experts say immunizations are the best way to protect your child. State lawmakers seem to agree, requiring a series of injections that prevent illnesses such as polio, measles, and mumps.
"Children biologically speaking are almost like little Petri dishes. There are a lot of bacteria and viruses that each one of them carry," Dr. Chris Sepich with the New Hanover Medical Group said. Most illnesses take a couple of days before you start to see the symptoms, so it's already spread before you can take action."
He says that's where vaccines come in, preventing the infections.
"Immunizations, as a medical provider, are the most important thing I do as a physician," Sepich said. "It prevents an illness rather than having to treat it. And as far as taking care of it in childhood to protect the whole life of the patient, it's probably the most important thing we do to prevent rather than react to it."
There are a few exemptions to the vaccination law though.
According to G.S.130A-157:
If the bona fide religious beliefs of an adult or the parent, guardian or person in loco parentis of a child are contrary to the immunization requirements contained in this Chapter, the adult or the child shall be exempt from the requirements. Upon submission of a written statement of the bona fide religious beliefs and opposition to the immunization requirements, the person may attend the college, university, school or facility without presenting a certificate of immunization.
Homeschoolers are also required to get the vaccines despite the lack of a traditional classroom environment.
"Most kids still have contact with other kids. And even though it's a reduced chance, I'd want to protect my child," Dr. Sepich said. "Don't forget, they're not going to be in school forever. They will probably go to a college or university, employment, a job…they're going to have interactions and they should have the protection immunizations provide for life."
Some parents have raised concerns though about the proteins used in the vaccines and the claims that immunizations are linked to autism. For that Dr. Sepich also has an answer.
"I tell them it's a science, it's reproducible," Sepich said. "We know it works. We've eradicated smallpox off the face of the earth because of science, so I reiterate that it's a science and that it protects."
For more information on what vaccinations your child may require and what the state law mandates, go to http://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements/northcarolina.aspx.
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