Just as much of a routine it is to buy supplies and backpacks for school at the end of the summer, so too should keeping up to date with immunizations for children as well as adults.
Immunizations provide protection against serious diseases, the First District Health Unit's website said. Most vaccines cause only minor side effects, such as soreness where the shot was given or a slight fever. These side effects do not last long and are treatable. If a child gets a dangerous childhood disease like polio or the measles, the risks from either disease are far greater than the risk of a serious vaccine reaction, the website also said.
The immunization requirements for children in kindergarten, according to Melissa Fettig, public health nurse at First District Health Unit in Minot, are doses of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), polio, and varicella (chicken pox). Middle school students are required to have the DTaP and meningitis vaccine, Fettig added.
One of the exam rooms at the First District Health Unit in Minot is shown here. Melissa Fettig, public health nurse for the clinic, said they try to keep the exam rooms as comfortable as possible for people coming in for vaccination shots.
A current common misconception is people from out of state think that First District Health Unit has access to the state registries, Fettig noted, but the clinic does not. "So it's the parent's responsibility to get their child's records," she said. She said North Dakota also has more requirements for immunization than other states.
For adults, the immunization requirements include a tetanus shot every 10 years and another TDaP dose, Fettig said. "The TDaP shot is the biggest thing right now," she said. "It's important for adults to get it to protect babies who haven't had their TDaP series. We have seen a spike in whooping cough."
A vaccine against pneumonia is also required, she said. For adults over age 65, Fettig said, flu shots should be annual and there's also the vaccine against shingles that adults should get.
Adult travelers may need shots before going to certain countries, Fettig said.
It's recommended that children receive the vaccine for hepatitis A and for HPV (human papilloma virus), Fettig said. Flu shots are also recommended. A new North Dakota policy says that college students are required to have had a dose of the meningitis vaccine after age 16, she said.
For adults with health conditions, other shots may be recommended, Fettig said. Also, adult diabetics are recommended to get a series of the hepatitis B vaccine rather than the vaccine for pneumonia, she added. It's also recommended that people with asthma or who smoke get the pneumonia vaccine regardless of age, which is a fairly new recommendation, Fettig said.
When coming to the First District Health Unit for immunizations, parents will need to bring their child's health records and insurance information, Fettig said. People are strongly encouraged to make an appointment, too, she said.
For vaccines for children age 18 and under, the clinic can bill the parent's insurance company and the cost will depend upon their deductible or co-payment, Fettig said. For people without insurance, vaccinations will cost $13.90 per shot.
Adults who are uninsured or whose insurance doesn't cover immunizations must pay at the time of vaccination, according to the First District Health Unit website. Medicare Part B can be billed for flu and pneumonia vaccination, it also said.
People wanting to access their medical records can call the First District Health Unit at 852-1376 or talk to their medical provider.
Fettig said it's important for parents to immunize their children because a lot of the diseases are preventable and don't have to happen.
For adults, she said, it's important to stay up to date on their vaccines because when adults are protected, then babies who haven't been immunized are also protected, and vaccinations protect everyone's health. "There's not a vaccine for everything, but it will decrease the risks," she said.
"Make sure your routine is to keep your kids up to date on shots. It's just the right of way," Fettig said.