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While the overwhelming majority of parents in the U.S. get their children vaccinated according to schedule, about 1 percent of children do not receive any vaccines, leaving them at the risk of contracting serious, even deadly, diseases.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from January through mid-October of this year, about 32,000 cases of whooping cough were reported, along with 16 deaths, most of them infants.
In addition, every fall, thousands of children are barred from starting classes because their immunization records are not up to date.
Some parents balk at vaccinations and shots for mumps, measles and other typical childhood illnesses as unnecessary or potentially dangerous because of possible allergic reactions. And there is no federal vaccination requirement, but each state has regulations, all 50 states require certain vaccinations for children entering public schools for all or most of the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, and polio.
Parents and guardians should keep a copy of children’s vaccination records, including a list of the dates they received their shots and when renewals are required. This is especially important if your child does not have a regular pediatrician or if you have changed doctors. Files do not always get transferred from one doctor to another in a timely manner and while your copy may not be considered an official file, it serves as an indicator to the school that you have been keeping up with the shots and it gives you a starting place to call to request records be sent to the school and your new doctor.
The CDC provides a list of vaccination requirements by state.
Dr. Iyabode Akinsanya-Beysolow, a Medical Officer in the Education, Information and Partnership Branch of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, is part of a program to provide continuing education to health care providers about immunizations and encourage them to urge patients to get their children vaccinated.