Don’t Forget Your Back-to-School Immunizations


Sponsored by Central Florida Health Care

As parents prepare for the upcoming school year, many will be making appointments with their kids’ pediatricians for physicals. During those visits to the doctors’ offices, it’s likely that vaccinations will be discussed. While vaccinations are nobody’s favorite, they serve an important role and are very safe, assures Dr. Heather Wardy, a pediatrician at Central Florida Health Clinic.

“It’s really a critical time for us as healthcare providers to make sure that children are up-to-date on their vaccines and that they receive the necessary school vaccinations as well,” she says.

A lot of kids throughout the U.S. have gotten off schedule on their immunizations due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that restrictions have been lifted, it is critical for parents to get their children caught up on any missed vaccinations.

“At the peak of the COVID pandemic, we did see a drop in vaccination rates,” Wardy says. “That highlights the importance even more that children should be coming in for their back-to-school physicals and making sure that they are up-to-date on their vaccines.”

While it is recommended that children see their doctor annually for a physical, there are significantly fewer immunizations recommended after infancy. 

“For school-age children, the critical periods of getting vaccinated are prior to entering kindergarten and seventh grade, and then at 16 years old, as well,” Wardy explains.

The vaccine schedules most commonly used by pediatricians are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists have determined at what age the body’s immune system will provide the best defense against disease after receiving a vaccination, and then balanced that information with the need to provide protection as early in life as possible.

It’s important for all children who are able to receive vaccinations to do so, and Wardy explains why.

“Every child is strongly recommended to get all of their vaccines to protect them from vaccine-preventable illnesses and diseases,” she says. “There are some rare cases where, medically, children cannot receive certain types of vaccines, so when enough children are immunized against those illnesses, we’re protecting our community, especially those children who might not qualify for certain vaccines due to their pre-existing conditions.”

The healthcare providers at Central Florida Health Clinic are committed to providing superior care to all of their patients and are always happy to discuss any concerns that parents may have regarding vaccines or other issues. They are equipped with the most current information available about vaccines and illness prevention in order to dispel any myths that parents may have heard. 

Among the vaccinations Polk County Public Schools require at various ages:

  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
  • Polio
  • DTP/DTaP (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)

Diseases such as polio, smallpox, and measles have been eliminated in the United States thanks to widespread vaccinations, so it’s easy to forget that illnesses like those used to result in significant numbers of people – especially children – being severely affected for life, if they survived.  

“Vaccines are safe, well-studied, and the benefits of vaccines are really the most important thing to consider,” Wardy reminds parents.

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