The U.S. has registered the worst outbreak of whooping cough in over five decades this year, with many states reaching epidemic levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the numbers of reported cases is already double as high compared with 2011, and with children preparing to return to school, the number of those who will develop whooping cough or even be killed by the disease could continue to rise, if children are not vaccinated appropriately.

Whooping cough is just one potentially deadly disease of many that can be effectively avoided through vaccinations, which aside from protecting children from these diseases can also help diagnosing a sick child.

Andrew Bonwit, pediatric infectious disease expert at Loyola University Health System informs:

“Vaccinating our children against whooping cough and other illnesses is the best way we can protect them. The next best defense we have for children is good hand-washing hygiene, and also not sending children to school, day care or after school programs if they are sick. When your child gets sick, being fully vaccinated helps your doctor simplify the evaluation and can lead to a quicker, more accurate diagnosis.”

It is just as important to vaccinate a child against infectious diseases, as it is to help them succeed in school by ensuring they have the supplies needed to learn in class.

Dr. Heidi Renner, primary care physician at Loyola University Health System says: “Though no one likes to get shots, vaccines are an integral part of keeping kids and our community safe. They work to safeguard children from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases and protect our kids by helping prepare their bodies to fight often serious and potentially deadly diseases.”

Many diseases that were leading causes of death in children just a few decades ago have been eradicated thanks to vaccinations. Dr. Renner recommends a list of the main immunizations that children should have before they start school. Before Kindergarten children should be vaccinated against the following diseases: your child should receive vaccinations against Measles, Mumps and Rubella, better known as MMR, Polio, Diptheria/Pertussis (whooping cough) and Chicken Pox.

It is most likely that children have been immunized against these diseases as an infant. The second round of vaccinations boost the children’s immunity and in sixth grade children should receive a Chicken Pox Booster if the child has not received two shots by this time and a Tetanus booster, as well as being vaccinated against Meningitis.

Children, who have not received their meningitis and tetanus booster in sixth grade, will need to be vaccinated against meningitis and tetanus booster before entering high school, since many colleges require that all students have been vaccinated against meningitis. Many schools also require their students to be vaccinated against flu, and information on individual school regulations can be obtained directly from the school.

Written by Petra Rattue