Special thanks to Donna Mazyck, MS, RN, CAE, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), for this guest post highlighting the importance of back-to-school vaccination in keeping children and teens healthy and ready to learn during National Immunization Awareness Month.
For students and their families, back to school preparation often includes completing emergency contact forms, gathering school supplies, and getting used to a new school schedule. Another critical aspect of back-to-school preparation is ensuring that children and teens are immunized and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) develops recommended vaccine schedules for children and teens, and each state sets specific vaccine requirements for students to enroll in classes. With recent cases of measles, mumps, and whooping cough (pertussis) across the US, school nurses can play an important role in keeping students healthy, safe, and ready to learn through health promotion and disease prevention.
As a trusted source of health information for parents and students, school nurses are key to ensuring student success. By reviewing immunization records, influencing vaccine uptake through education about the burden of disease and ways to reduce transmission, as well as sharing facts about the importance of on-time vaccination, school nurses can support students, their families, and the health of the surrounding community.
In order to better assist school nurses in protecting students, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) developed an Immunization Transition Toolkit. The toolkit focuses on vaccines students need before key transitions from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, and from high school to college or to the work force. These transition periods can be a stressful time for students and parents, and school nurses can help lessen the stress by providing timely and accurate information and resources to students and their families.
The toolkit includes newsletter articles, letters that can be shared with parents and students, and other resources. Providing recommendations, information, and community resources for access to healthcare and immunizations is key to a positive outcome for transitioning youth.
Back-to-school + students who are healthy and ready to learn = a winning combination!
As you prepare for back to school transitions, remember that vaccines aren’t just for young children. Make sure that all students are up-to-date on recommended vaccinations before they head back to school.
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